Several things make Terroir Natural Wine Merchant
(1116 Folsom at Seventh St., a few doors east of Brainwash) my favorite wine bar in the Bay Area. First and foremost, the 15-odd choices on the by-the-glass list, like the hundreds available by the bottle, are usually delicious, always interesting, and mostly wines you won't see elsewhere. The place is often quiet and laid-back, especially in the afternoon and early evening, and even at peak hours the little mezzanine at the back of the room is one of the coziest spots in town to hang out with friends or a date, especially if you can snag the couch. The passionate young owner-bartenders can tell you anything you might want to know about the wines, or about the equally tasteful all-vinyl soundtrack. And for some reason it's rarely hard to find a nearby parking space.
Why won't you find most of the wines elsewhere? As indicated by its full name, Terroir specializes in natural wines, a somewhat nebulous category that includes products from vineyards and wineries certified as organic and/or biodynamic
, as well as from European wineries that simply haven't changed their practices much in the past century. This results in a broader range of grape varieties, appelations, and winemaking styles, and thus more diverse flavors, than you'll find at most other wine bars.