The first wine shops were in rich families' town houses, with these small doors, where you would put your bottles to be filled with wine or olive oil.
In September, Italy celebrates the harvest, wine festivals, and wine! And living in Italy is like living in a candy store for wine lovers! Every region of Italy produces wine. The best way to sample regional wines is not by touring the wine country and stopping at wineries, as we do in California, but by sitting down at a local bar and having wine by the glass.
Coffee shops also pour wine, usually a local table wine, called vino da tavola. It is what the locals drink, a light wine to have while eating.
For more important wines, or for a larger selection, try stopping by an enoteca or vinaio. Vinaio is actually the merchant who sells you wine, and an enoteca is a shop with a collection of wines, like a biblioteca (library) is a collection of books. Some are shops where you can drink and buy; others are only for drinking and eating. Both are fabulous learning and tasting experiences. Many an enoteca and vinaio serve food, because Italians would never think about drinking without eating!
Since I live in Florence, here is a list of some of my favorites in town. Some are in the old traditional style of standing up at the bar (Casa del Vino, Zanobini, I Fratellini, and Fiaschetteri on Via dei Neri); others have turned into dining establishments where you can sit down and actually order. A few wineries have now also opened restaurant wine bars. You'll have to move here to visit them all!
Alessi, Via dell'Oche 27-29r
I Fratellini, Via dei Cimatori 38r
Cantinetta dei Verrazzano, Via dei Tavolini 18-20r
Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori, Via dei Magazzini 3/r
Frescobaldi Wine Bar (restaurant), Via dei Magazzini 2-4r, wine bar in back alley around the corner
Cantinetta Antinori, Piazza Antinori 3 (via Tornabuoni)
Colle Beretto Wine Bar, Piazza Strozzi 5r
* Procacci, Via Tornabuoni 64r
GustoVino, Via Condotta 37r
* Il Vinaio, Piazza del Grano 10
Enoteca Gambi, Borgo S.S. Apostoli 21-23 ( Ponte Vecchio)
Mercato San Lorenzo/ San Marco
* Casa del Vino, Via dell'Ariento 16r
* Enoteca Bussotti, Via San Gallo 161r
* Zanobini, Via Sant'Antonino 47r
* La Mescita, Via degli Alfani 70r
Zone 15, Via del Castellaccio 53/55r (San Marco)
Semidivino, Via San Gallo 22r
Boccadama, Piazza Santa Croce 25-26r
All'antico Vinaio, Via dei Neri 65r
Enoteca Baldovino, Via San Giuseppe 18r (Santa Croce)
Enoteca Pinchiorri, Via Ghibellina 87r
* Fiaschetteria, Via dei Neri 17r
Oltrarno (Across the River)
Le Volpe e L'Uva, Piazza dei Rossi 1r
Pitti Gola, Piazza Pitti 16
* Fiaschetteria, Via dei Serragli 47r
Le Barrique, Via del Leone 40r (San Frediano)
Fuori Porta, Via Monte alle Croce 10r (San Niccolo)
Olio e Convivium, Via Santo Spirito 4 (Santo Spirito)
Beccofino, Piazza Scarlatti 1
Enoteca Bene Vobis, Via de'Serragli 78r
Sei Divino!, Borgo Ognisanti 42r
Santo Bevitore, Via Santo Spirito 64-66r
* Part of the oldest stores in Florence
Life's Too Short
Tuscan Chocolate Valley
I Scream, U Scream, We All Scream for...Gelato!
Slow Food, Slow Travel
Sagre, Sagre, Sagre!
La Notte di San Lorenzo
Fireflies & Fireworks
I Love EWE!
Andrea's Christmas Dinner
Addio Bistecca alla Fiorentina!
Guelfa e Ghibellini
[late summer 2001]
Tartufi, Feste & Sagre
Piatti del Buon Ricordo