Oscar’s Vine Society: What sets Oscar's apart from established Dubai wine bars is its authentic menu. It features oysters, cheese, cold cuts, and a truly splendid black pudding with roasted apples and mashed potatoes that will have confirmed Francophiles gleefully humming the Marseillaise between mouthfuls. Whoever Oscar is, he can boast an excellent selection of beverages and French bar food, not to mention all the genial bonhomie that makes this unpretentious, cosy and bijoux wine bar a favourite.
Cin Cin: This upscale wine bar has one of the best cellars in the city, attracting those looking to show off their bonus as well as appreciate the full-bodied flavours. So the food will always be secondary to wine and conversation, but what is on offer is good, if expensive. Beef tenderloin comes as three pieces of steak on a glass tray – one plain, one covered in cheese and one with foie gras – and is faultless in flavour. The tempura crab is equally fine and plates of caviar and mini wagyu steak burgers are also memorable.
Vintage: Vintage is a small living room-style wine bar with plenty of sofas and armchairs to ease yourself in for the evening. It seems that the philosophy of this place is: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And while you may find yourself tucking into the same meals at this place time after time, what is served up is spot-on. Three appetisers will set you back a reasonable Dhs69. Stick to the traditional dishes to accompany the wine: you'll never tire of the cheese board with cured meats.
The Agency: Once you've managed to get a seat, you'll find this place is worth the wait. The menu of wines is matched with an army of international tidbits that wouldn't feel out of place at a Michelin-star abode. Alaskan crab, kataifi prawns and foie gras adorn the menu, while beverages hail from as far a field as Chile and Argentina. The paella and chorizo cakes in particular are served to creamy perfection. But a quick delve into the traditional cheese fondue is where the true highlight lies.
The Cellar: In Dubai you get rather used to walking through swish, shiny hotel lobbies before reaching your restaurant of choice. At The Cellar you're more likely to be weaving your way through a lively crowd on the pleasant terrace before pushing the doors open into a busy, dark bar – an experience that might lead you to expect bar-snack-style bites served at a cracking pace. And yes, potato wedges and satay skewers are available. But venture over to the spacious and peaceful dining room and you'll be able to chomp down a seriously good meal.
Oeno: Wine bars often get a bad name, but if you want to get the best bottles in Dubai they’re your best bet by far. This is especially true at Oeno, which has a fantastic selection or grapes, from vintage champagnes to outstanding sweet sauternes. There are two private rooms, one for wine tasting and one for sampling cheese, and the latter’s menu is wonderfully well-stocked. Cheese and wine are surprisingly difficult to match well, but the sommeliers here will set you straight, and with additional tasting elements (from quince to honey truffle oil) it’s the best place to eat some of the finest cheese in the city – and possibly the whole of the Middle East.
Vu’s Bar: From its 51st-floor location, you'll be able to see a glittering vista of flickering lights and muted, traffic-clogged streets that is Dubai. Once you've managed to tear yourself away from the view, enjoy a pleasant beverage in sophisticated surroundings. The drinks at Vu's have the attitude to match the altitude.
The Lounge Bar: There is something about a live pianist that adds a venue that extra special air of quality and sitting in this Dubai Marine Beach resort chill out spot resonates with sophistication. There may be better cellars in town but this is one spot you can be sure to find like minded drinkers looking to enjoy a relaxed drink.
Vinoteca: Not the best known wine bar in Dubai but, as visitors to this Italy-inspired nightspot will tell you, that is no bad thing. Most often enjoyed as a pre or post-dinner spot (particular for visitors to Andiamo!) Vinoteca has a bar well-stocked with Italian grapes.
Traiteur Bar: If Dubai had a design award, Traiteur would win top prize for being the best-looking bar in the city. It’s simply stunning to look at with its beautifully crafted (and for once, immensely comfortable) bar stools and modern art pieces. But it won’t be Traiteur’s stunning aesthetics that keep you coming back again and again: its mammoth wine list is among the best in the city. If we had a complaint, it was that there are few wines you can buy by the glass, the cheapest being the light and palatable Duas Quintas at Dhs35 a pop. But it’s a small sacrifice to make for an evening of beautifully-crafted grandeur.