When you see “house wine” listed on a menu, do you:
- A.) Immediately scroll down in search of the “real” wines on the list
- B.) Select the house red or white because you’re really not sure what kind of wine to order (and it’s the cheapest!)
Whatever your choice may be, I think most of us can admit that we really have no clue as to what a “house wine” really is exactly.
House Wine Qualifications
At a restaurant, a “house wine” is considered a basic, everyday, not particularly special wine offering that is normally inexpensive. These are wines that restaurants are typically ready to move, such as, left over event wine, the last few bottles of a case, or something the restaurant has gotten a deal on. It’s often sold by the glass, or sometimes by the carafe or bottle, and usually both a red and white are available. The menu rarely offers much insight on the producer or varietal to accompany the ambiguous titles of “house red” or “house white.” Although, the “house red” is usually a Cabernet Sauvignon while Chardonnay tends to be the “house white” in most cases.
I decided to have a little fun with this post and search for the best “house wines” in the city. Houston is known for many things: the medical center, oil & gas industry, and NASA to name a few, but wait until you experience the real house wines!
Meet the Houston House Wines
Meet the Southern Belle of the group. Charmed, I’m sure when you take your first sip. She doesn’t let her flashy surroundings get to her head. No, this house wine is humble and very down to earth. Although, she doesn’t stray too far from the pack, this house wine is confident in what she brings to the table!
- Location: Rice Village
- Happy Hour (HH): Tuesday – Friday, 4-7 p.m. and Friday – Saturday, 9-11 p.m. (Bar Only)
The house wine selections at Punk’s are a reflection of the laid back, southern environment at the restaurant. Both are very easy going and by that I mean very straight forward in flavors, nothing that is out of the box. They’re what you’d expect from a typical house wine. You can’t go wrong with these options.
- White: The Dunlavy Cuvée (2015) is 100 percent Chardonnay from Spain. I thought it was pretty solid…smooth, slightly buttery (which I love) with subtle fruit notes and a nice acidic finish.
- Red: The Dunlavy Cuvée (2014) is 100 percent Aragon Granacha from Spain. Our amazing server let me sample a little taste. This house red was dry with dark berry and cherry flavors. A good choice if red is your thing!
Paging the next real house wine! Meet the wine medical miracle that will cure all your problems. After a recent makeover, this house wine is back to filling glasses left and right. Posed with sophistication, you can tell that much thought went into her selections.You can’t stop her when she’s in the house!
- Location: Medical Center
- HH Hours: Monday – Friday, 3-7 p.m.
If you’re ever in the med center, you have to stop by Third Coast (formerly Treviso’s) and try their house wines. The ambiance is so chill, perfect for a happy hour visit after a long day at work! You can tell that much thought has gone into their wine menu. Plus, their house wines would normally go for around $35 a bottle on the regular menu, so you know you’re getting a good quality wine at a great price.
- White: Black Ridge Chardonnay (2015) – This Chard is crisp with citrus flavors. I found it to have a tart finish, which was very enjoyable.
- Red: Black Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon (2013) – This Cab is smooth and medium bodied with currant and black cherry flavors.
Oh to be young and carefree! Meet the house wine that’s breaking all the rules one sip at a time. She been around the scene for a couple of over a year now. Bringing her European flavor to the table, this house wine refuses to conform to traditional house wine standards and offers a unique flare that is infectious and will have you falling in love!
- Location: Midtown
- HH Hours: Monday – Friday, 3:30-6 p.m.
Disclaimer: Oporto is my favorite restaurant in Houston. I also think they have one of the best happy hours in the city. This new location actually opened last summer and I can’t get enough of it. Their house wine selections are the bomb and you can upgrade from a glass to larger carafe sizes for super reasonable prices. (Sorry, I don’t have the prices on me right now)
- Cava: Luis Pato Vinho Espumante Bruto (2014) is from Maria Gomes (90%) and Sercialinho (10%) grapes. I’m not a big fan of sparkling wines, but this Cava was soooo good! First can we talk about the amazing pour? (see picture above) My cup runneth over…literally. This Cava was light, not super dry with green apple and other fruit flavors. I could sip on this beautiful drink all day! Oh and did you peep the pear shaped glass?
- Rosé: Ginérosat (2014) – This spanish Rosé is sold on tap at Oporto. I found it to be very bitter and tart. I got hints of cranberry flavors. I wasn’t a fan of this particular Rosé. I’ve had better at the restaurant.
- White/Red: The red and white house wines rotate during happy hour. Last year, I couldn’t get enough of their house red!
Meet the HHWIC! The Head House Wine in Charge!! Oh yes, she’s fancy! No need to explain because you already know! Top of the line wine and nothing less. She’s too good to be like the rest!
- Location: Midtown
- HH Hours: Monday – Friday, 3:30-6 p.m.
Provisions is one of the fancier restaurants in the city. On a regular day, I probably wouldn’t be able to eat here, but thank God for the happy hour menu. Despite being on the pricer end, the vibe in the bar area was very chill. Like Oporto, I loved how Provision steps outside of the norm with their house wine offerings. My server said that much consideration goes into the daily selection and they’re always looking for something different than the typical Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.
- White/Red: The white selection is the Essay Chenin Blanc (2015). It’s blended with a touch of Viognier (one of my favorite white wines). Prohibition definitely got cool points for stepping our of the Chardonnay box and offering a Chenin Blanc as one of their house wines. I found it to be very diverse in its flavors. I got a mix of floral, butter scotch, and green apple. All around it was smooth with a nice acidic finish. The red is the Le Héré+Iques Red Table Wine, which I did not try during my visit.
- Cava: The Poema Cava (non-vintage) is a sparkling wine from Spain. From its aromas to its actual taste, this Cava reminded me so much of some type of beer or really strong apple cider. Not really sure if I would order it again.
Meet the outsider of the group. You won’t find this house wine hanging out with the uber trendy. She’s an “around-the-way” wine, which the others may frown upon, but I wouldn’t count her out. A little rough around the edges, but will always have your back when you’re in need of a good drink!
- Location: Outside the Museum District
- HH Hours: Monday – Thursday, 3-6 p.m.; Extended Fridays, 3-9 p.m.
Revelry is known as a sports bar, not your typical place to enjoy wine. But don’t let the big screen TVs and craft beer fool you. This place has some legit house wines. I will definitely be back to sip on some wines and watch a football game this season.
- White: La Terre Chardonnay – This was my favorite house white out of the places I visited. My glass was filled with sweet fruits aromas. Even though it was unoaked and not buttery, I thought it was very tasty and in fact, actually reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc.
- Red: The house red is the Bass Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, which unfortunately I did not try on my house wine crusade. I stuck mostly to whites and sparklings.
I highly recommend visiting these places if you live in or ever visit the city! I’m planning to continue this series in 2017 and will be traveling to other cities to try their house wines. So, stay tuned! Where is your favorite place to drink house wines? Whose house wines should I try next? Let me know below.