Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Charleston, South Carolina, USA (2013)

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Brad Ball, Proprietor + Wine Director of Social Restaurant and Wine Bar and with Rick Rubel, Sommelier of Charleston Grill - Please note the "Terroir" on Brad's Arm

Charleston in South Carolina in the U. S. is a coastal town rich in history and tradition that also has plenty to offer for food and wine aficionados, including several outstanding wine bars.

Built 3 centuries ago, the city of Charleston is one of the best preserved architectural treasures in the U.S. The meticulously restored colonial homes lining its charming streets are a reminder of the city’s long and colorful history. The birthplace of the Charleston dance – made famous by Josephine Baker – the city still has all the charm that it owes to its multi-ethnic European origins.

Pictures: Charleston in South Carolina - Beach, City, Magnolia Plantation

Here are my favorites wine bars. My top 3 are: Social Restaurant and Wine Bar, Charleston Grill and Cypress. My other favorites follow in alphabetical order.

Schiller's Top Favorites

Social Restaurant and Wine Bar
188 E. Bay Street

Situated in a 19th century warehouse, this restaurant and wine bar has a modern vibe and an impressive bottle list - the wine display cellar houses over 4000 bottles of wine. New World wines are on the backburner and the focus is clearly on Old world wines. A very nice selection of German Rieslings and then there is a section on Pinot Noir. A wine cellar is right in the middle of the wine bar where you can go in and take a look at the bottles.

Social Wine Bar also has an amazing selection of wines by the glass. In particular, I like the assortment of wine flights at prices ranging from $12-$15.

Last time I was there I chose the dry Riesling flight with a wine from Australia, a wine from Oregon and a Doennhoff Riesling from Germany.

The restaurant serves American cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. There is an authentic wood-burning oven that turns out good food.

Charleston Grill
224 King Street

Charleston Grill is fine dining at its best, situation within the Charleston Place Hotel. The seasonal menu has four categories: Pure, Southern, Cosmopolitan and Lush, but you can mix and match and create the perfect meal.

Charleston Grill also has bar with an excellent wine list with 1300 items, well sorted and with a strong focus on old world wines. Interestingly, the list of dry Rieslings has no German wine, but the list of sweet Rieslings is long and dominated by German producers.

There is live Jazz every evening.

The Wine Enthusiast Magazine published an interesting list of restaurants: America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2012. Charleston Grill, along with Husk and Circa 1886 is on the list.

See more:

America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants: The Northeast - Wine Enthusiast 2012

167 E. Bay Street

If you want to treat yourself to an upscale culinary experience, put Cypress on your list. The cuisine is eclectic American with a subtle blend of French and Asian. But if you want just a glass of wines, Cypress also has a swanky mezzanine bar upstairs.

When you enter the restaurant you will notice an astonishing three story wine wall to your right. The wine comes from all over the world. There is clearly a focus on well established estates. You find quite a selection of grand cru Bordeaux wines. All in all, about 300 bottles on the wine list. The bartender told me it varies quite often and sometimes they are up to 600 bottles. Indeed the wine menu was dated.

Both the dining area and the mezzanine bar have a modern, chic vibe.

Other Schiller Favorites

Bin 152 Wine Bar
152 King Street

Bin 152 is a casual wine bar. The décor conveys a relaxed feel. Large paintings by local artists hang on the walls and antique tables and chairs are scattered throughout. The owners are an American husband and French wife.

Bin 152 has a selection of 30 wines by the glass and more than 100 wines by the bottle, a nice blend of Old and New World. Wines by the glass start at $7 and bottles of wine start at $30.

In terms of food, Bin 152 has a most interesting assortment of cheese and charcuterie to accompany the wine.

Circa 1886
149 Wentworth Street,

In the carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion, this deluxe restaurant offers grand food, a beautiful decor, and formal service

It does not have a bar area.

The Wine Enthusiast Magazine published an interesting list of restaurants: America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2012. Circa 1886, along with Husk and Charleston Grill is on the list.

Elliotborough Mini Bar
Percy Street/Bogard Street

Tucked away neighborhood spot, used to be part of Trattoria Lucca.

232 Meeting Street

Fig – food is good. Fig is a local neighborhood eatery located in the heart of downtown Charleston.

The bar is a popular place for appetizers and the wine list is interesting.

442 King Street

Set in a 1837 Charleston single house on upper King, the restaurant serves French-Asian fish cuisine, simply prepared with the freshest ingredients. 

The popular casual but upscale bar scene can make dining rather lively and loud. Decent wine list.

76 Queen St

A lot has been written about Husk. It's all Southern, all the time. At Husk you will eat what is popping out of the ground this minute, and maybe even look at an old classic in a new way.

Next to the restaurant is a separate bar, where restaurant guests can wait for their table or people just have a drink there.

Husk has a very innovative wine list. The wines are not grouped by regions are by grape varieties, but by terroir type:

SLATE - Slate is a dark, plate-like metamorphic rock formed under low pressure. It retains heat and water well. Often gives the wine a “flinty” taste.


LIMESTONE - Limestone is made primarily from fossilized seashells. It possesses the ability to store water for irrigation, which is essential for wine growth. Its alkaline nature encourages high acidity grapes to flourish.

PRIMARY ROCK - Primary Rock is a term used to describe rocks being first formed containing crystalline and no organic remains. These soils usually warm quickly and hold heat well, they allow the vines to dig deep to find nutrients needed for growth and have the best possible drainage.

VOLCANIC - Volcanic soils have two types; vent based and lava based. Volcanic influenced soils are found to have some of the most nutrient rich soils for vine growth.

The Wine Enthusiast Magazine published an interesting list of restaurants: America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2012. Husk, along with Charleston Grill and Circa 1886 is on the list.

Il Cortile Del Re
193 King St

Il Corte Del Re is a classic Italian osteria with a very nice feel that also has a wine bar, as part of the restaurant. Lots of Italian wines, many are available by the glass.

2 Unity Alley

New Southern fine dining fresh from the farm and a gorgeous space that dates from the early 1800’s make McCrady’s one of the best restaurants in town.

McCrady’s also has a very nice bar, which features a Wine Spectator Award-winning wine list, as well as a diverse and delicious bar snack menu. Each day, a chalkboard above the bar will offer several featured snacks.

Muse Restaurant and Wine Bar
82 Society Street

Located off the beaten path on Society Street and frequented by locals in the know. A cozy dining area, in addition to a fun bar area. Ecclectic Mediterranean cuisine. 

Muse is known for an extensive wine list, with 100 wines by the glass.

Peninsula Grill at the Planters Inn
112 N. Market St.

Originally built in 1844, the Planters Inn is located in the very heart of Charleston’s famed Historic District. Elegant, stylish while simultaneously refined and relaxed, the Peninsula Grill captures the true essence of Charleston in both ambiance and cuisine. The courtyard and verandas, with their ornate landscaping and fountains, create an urban oasis in which to relax, sip delicious cocktails and taste the generous regional American cuisine of the acclaimed Peninsula Grill.

The wine menu is excellent with a good selection of wines by the glass. There is no separate bar.

Seafood Places

There are many seafood places. I am listing here 3, which I checked out.

Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar
205 East Bay Street

Probably the best raw bar in town with a stylish atmosphere of exposed brick and grand windows. A great spot for seafood – oysters, clams, shellfish and fish - with an unspectacular wine selection

Morgan Greek Grill
80 41st Avenue, Isle of Palms

Boathouse at Bread Inlet
101 Palm Boulevard, Isle of Palms

Shem Creek/Coleman Boulevard

A sizable number of seafood restaurants on both sides of Shem Creek.

Schiller’ Favorites

This posting is part of the Schiller’s favorites series. Here is a full list of all Schiller’s favorites postings so far.

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars and Other Wine Spots in Vienna, Austria 

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in San Francisco, USA

Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Bordeaux (City), France

Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Budapest, Hungary

Schiller’s 12 Favorite Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar

Schiller's Favorite Apple Wine Taverns in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Mainz, Germany

Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars and Other Places Where You Can Have a Glass of Wine in Healdsburg, California

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

Focus on Natural Wines: The Terroirs Wine Bar in London

The Natural Wines of La Cremerie in Paris

Wine bar: Paris, Berlin, New York, London

Wine bar: Paris --- Le Petit Monceau, Willi's wine bar and Lavinia

Wine Bars in London: Vats Wine Bar, the Cork and Bottle, the Providores and Tapa Room

Weinhaus Bluhm in Mainz: A Cosy and Basic Wine Tavern Serving World Class Wines from Germany

America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants: The Northeast - Wine Enthusiast 2012

Oysters - and Wine - at Zuni Café in San Francisco, USA

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