New wine bars to visit in Joburg this summer

In the new era of prohibition, the burgeoning of wine bars is the last thing one might expect. But intrepid restaurant proprietors are doing exactly that, with Joburg appearing to become a wine bar haven. 

Antonym (Parktown North)

This wine bar is Chef James Diack’s latest addition to the raft of restaurants he runs on the 4th Avenue strip, which includes Il Contadino and his flagship, Coobs. Located inside Coobs, Antonym is set apart by its proudly South African vintages and pocket-friendly approach to the wine bar concept. All wines are sold by the glass, which makes it more economical for guests who maybe don’t want to drink too much or are minding their budget in these tough times. Food-wine pairings are also available, as are tapas such as meatballs, chicken wings and octopus with chorizo and soft egg yolk.


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Alto234 (Sandton)

Guests can see as far as as the Magaliesberg from the rooftop at Alto234, which has been billed as Africa’s highest urban bar. The Leonardo’s swish new bar gave patrons a glimpse of what to expect recently, with a helicopter delivery of Moët & Chandon, Alto234’s preferred champagne, prior to its opening. It’s lavish, to say the least. Guests can order food from the Leonardo’s fine-dining restaurant, Aurum, and 200ml champagne bottles from the bar’s Moët Mini Machine. There’s also an exhaustive list of wines available, ranging from boisterous Bordeaux blends and crisp whites to rosés and reds of note, such as the rich, fruity Hamilton Russell pinot noir and the plummy Kanonkop pinotage.


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Flor (Rosebank)

The wine bar is bringing an even stronger flavour of Italy to the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Bolton Road. The wine list is almost exclusively Italian, with neighbouring Coalition’s full menu available to order. Not only can patrons look forward to wine and pizza, but they can also explore the taste of Italy with sangiovese, barbera and pinot grigio. You can order by winemaking region from the board and by the glass, so it’s all completely unpretentious. South African wines are available too.


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Mr Pants (Blairgowrie)

This wine bar is here to prove that size doesn’t matter. Mr Pants is billed as South Africa’s smallest wine bar, but packs a mighty big punch with an impressive list of international wines, available by the glass, and fresh bagels too. Restaurateur Shayne Holt’s wine bar started out teaming with local businesses while awaiting a liquor licence, and the fresh bagels from Birds Bagels turned out to be a hit. With a licence finally granted, now patrons can sample decades-old wines at pocket-friendly, by-the-glass prices. The Delta Central complex establishment may be minute, but its cellar offering is vast. Each night is full of big surprises, with Holt opening about five bottles ranging from the 90s and early 2000s – and even as far back as the 60s and 70s if you’re lucky – to buy by the glass.


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Proud Mary (Rosebank)

Located at the Manhattan-style, mid-century The Bank, this wine bar’s minimalist, modernist aesthetic is reflected in its décor, plating and drinks, with a strong focus on locally sourced, fresh flavours. Think champagne and mushroom risotto paired with Cape Rock grenache, coal-fired rock lobster served with sherry sabayon and triple-fried chips and paired with a robust local red, or, for the brekkie lovers, mackerel fillet eggs Benedict with creole relish, rocket and hollandaise sauce on freshly baked muffins. Yes, this ritzy restaurant on the corner of Tyrwhitt and Cradock avenues is an all-day eatery, with chef Marc Robert Proenca at its helm. Pastries and desserts are baked on the premises and a different winemaker is honoured almost each week. Throughout the month of September, spring is being celebrated with a glass of Cap Classique paired with three oysters for R150. 


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