Best Bottle Shops in Toronto


Just when we needed it, the government’s move to lift restrictions on the sale of alcohol is a significant silver lining of the pandemic. Now, the city is studded with bottle stores, bodegas, wine merchants, and restaurants that provide a whole separate takeaway menu. The growth of retailers has resulted in increased choice and surprise, as well as an overall pleasant shopping experience that is a far cry from the one-size-fits-all approach of the past.


Grape Witches

Nicole Campbell and Krysta Oben, the self-proclaimed grape witches of Toronto, have spent the past five years developing a little wine empire in the city, organizing wine pop-ups, operating a highly covetable wine club, and opening a permanent store in Little Portugal (just weeks before the pandemic hit). Grape Witches has several functions, but it is predominantly a hangout for cool youngsters. Wine-loving west-enders spend warm days seated at a table on the terrace (which has a functional and extremely elegant water fountain), drinking glasses from cult winemakers and munching on cheese, pepperettes, and buttered sourdough from Robinson Bread. In the front, an elegantly designed bottle store features beautiful (mostly natural and often uncommon) bottles from fashionable producers, like California queen Martha Stoumen, Quebec boundary pushers Pinard & Filles, and natural wine aristocracy Gut Oggau. A private tasting area on the second floor serves as an event venue for workshops and discussion panels.

Le Conciliabule

This Little India wine bar and restaurant was first started as a pop-up—a temporary location for co-owners Manon Tournayre and Charles Boggio to bake pastries and sell fine wines. It is now the permanent boutique of our aspirations in the neighbourhood. While you’re there, cruise up to the takeaway window (pre-order so you don’t miss out on the gooey croque monsieur or the savoury paté en croûte heaped with seasonal greens) and pick up a couple bottles. The wine selection is well chosen, but it may still be overwhelming. Tournayre or Boggio are delighted to recommend a bottle, producer, or location that will suit your tastes. If you choose, they will go into the intricacies of the soil, terroir, grapes, and area. Le Conciliabule provides monthly subscriptions of three or six bottles of wine, together with pastries and a baguette, for those who want to cede control.


Bot’l Shop

Now, in addition to being an outstanding drinking establishment, it is also an exceptional bottle store, both in-person and online (the wine descriptions are just the beginning of the fun). The wine selection is enticing, with bottles from fashionable companies such as Fattoria al Fiore, Anders Frederik Steen, Domaine Bobinet, and many more. Less bookish oenophiles may notice that the list is skewed toward exceptionally drinking wines—wines that make you stay up late and open a second bottle. Anna and Glenn Wesley (they are literally the only staff) own and run the establishment, and they tailor their wine list with bottles from like-minded small producers with a passion for their craft. Don’t overlook the huge assortment of sake, no matter your preference.

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