Waikīkī Wine Bar Crawl: Island Vintage Wine Bar, Cattleya, Dean & DeLuca
Discover new wines at these three new wine bars.
Inside Island Vintage Wine Bar
Photos: Martha Cheng
New year, new wine. That’s my idea of a juice cleanse.
Three new wine bars opened in Waikīkī last year, and new technology that allows places to serve more interesting wines by the glass means opportunities to discover something new. And especially with threatened tariffs that will push wine prices up, tasting before committing to a full bottle is doubly appreciated.
Island Vintage Wine Bar
Given that I consistently rank Island Vintage’s poke bowls, acai bowls and shave ice as among my favorites on the island, I shouldn’t be so surprised that Island Vintage’s new wine bar thrills me. I’m drawn to its variety of wines (40!) and a system that allows you to taste each in 1-, 3- and 5-ounce pours. Plus, with the self-serve dispensers, you can learn as little or as much as you want about each wine: If you’re there to just drink and eat with friends, serve yourself and gather over the communal high top; if you want a lesson in wines, sit at the bar, where wine director Mark Cartland, as approachable as the space itself, will teach you what he knows.
Some of my favorite tastes include a white rioja that tastes of golden raisins, a Portuguese white that Cartland described as quirky, and a nebbiolo. One-ounce pours range anywhere from about $3 to $37 (for Opus One). Island Vintage’s food options are generously portioned and include a burger ($18), clams steamed in white wine ($24) and an almost overflowing cheese plate ($22) that’s a terrific complement to wine sampling.
Happy hour, from 3 to 6 p.m., offers $7 glasses of wine, small plates for $7 and larger (including those clams) for $14.
Inside Royal Hawaiian Center, Building C, Level 2, 2301 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 923-3383
A long communal table with an oceanfront view anchors the wine bar at Orchids (though there’s no actual bar counter to sit at). This being the Halekūlani, it’s a bit more formal than Island Vintage. I don’t know if it’s because I’m drinking alone this night, but the server is especially gracious in letting me try any wine I’m curious about. Which is how I end up with four tasting glasses, including a Masseria Setteporte Nerello Mascalese 2015 ($17), from the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, and Chateau Musar Jeune 2017 ($20) from Lebanon (which is how I learn LB on the wine list does not mean Long Beach). The Italian-leaning small plates include a beef tartare ($28) in a clear, refreshing pool of essence of apple and celery.
Inside the Halekūlani, 2199 Kālia Road, valet and self-parking complimentary with purchase, (808) 923-2311, halekulani.com
Dean & DeLuca
Head to Dean & DeLuca’s airy second-floor lounge at the Ritz-Carlton during happy hour (from 4 to 6 p.m. daily), when your choice among flat breads, a charcuterie board and bruschetta ($20 each) includes a glass of wine. You can’t go wrong with the charcuterie board (I found the truffle oil on the duck prosciutto flatbread overwhelming—said no one ever, except for me), paired with a light Beaujolais or cold and crisp Friulian pinot grigio. Still hungry for a deal? Head downstairs to Dean & DeLuca’s deli section and get a made-to-order bento from Sushi Sho, the 10-seat sushi bar with prices starting at $300 a head. A perfect bento box for one ($16), as beautifully and thoughtfully presented as in the restaurant, includes maki rolls stuffed with unagi, shrimp and tamago, and comes with pickled heart of palm and a single pickled, peeled tiny tomato.
Inside the Ritz-Carlton, 383 Kalaimoku St., valet parking complimentary with purchase, (808) 729-9720, ritzcarlton.com
SEE ALSO: 10 Things You Can Only Get in Waikīkī