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Wine Brunch on a Budget in New York City

blackberry waffles

Mark’s Comment: Today I bring you a guest post from Avery Phillips.  New York’s an interesting market for any number of reasons.  One of the big ones for me though is because it’s about equidistant from many old world growing regions in Europe as it is from 90% of American wine production (the states we cover for our wine clubs, California, Oregon and Washington).  Plus, given the utter ridiculousness of many state by state shipping laws in America, it can actually be easier for New York based stores to access wine from France rather than California.  It’s a competitive marketplace and one that virtually every small winemaker would love to have access to both direct to consumers, as well as, through a distributor or broker.  Last, if you can write for us, as well, if you’re willing to produce something truly local for our blog.

Wine and brunch go hand in hand, but when you’re looking to wine and dine in New York City on a budget, things aren’t so simple. Sure, you could spend a little less and settle for a mimosa or a bloody mary, but if you’re looking for a rosé paired with your benedict, you’ll have to agree to spend a little more – or get frugal with your spending. New York is an expensive city filled with amazing wine and fabulous food, so when you’re looking to experience both on a budget, you’ll need to get creative. In NYC, the possibilities are endless as long as you know where to go.

Find a Free Tasting

You can’t get much cheaper than free. Though few things are actually free, there really are some establishments spread throughout the boroughs that offer free wine tastings – though the cab fare might offset the free price tag a bit. You may not find an establishment offering free tastings with brunch, but in order to work with your budget you may want to adapt. Go get brunch, then head to a wine tasting afterwards. Some places that have been known to offer free tastings are:

Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit – Manhattan: This location has fun, themed tastings every now and again that will turn free tasting into an entire adventure. Check out their calendar and stop in to end a brunch outing right. They are near Zio Ristorante for a great brunch spot.

Dandelion Wine Shop – Brooklyn: This little gem has free tastings every week and has  a vast and eclectic selection of wines. The tastings are pretty popular, and usually on Thursdays. They are near Early for a great brunch spot.

Chelsea Wine Vault – Manhattan: Chelsea Wine Vault offers a ton of tastings per week offering 4 or 5 wines. They are pretty good about putting their tastings on their calendar and allow you to just drop in. They are near Catch for a great brunch spot.

Astor Wine & Spirits – Manhattan: Not only do they offer free tastings, they also occasionally offer discounts on the bottles that are featured. They are near Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery for a great brunch spot.

Wine and Brunch in the Park

In reality, going out for brunch and wine in the city is going to cost you a little. It might cost you in terms of the food, the wine, or the cab to get there. However, you can choose where to put that money by deciding to have your own brunch adventure in one of the amazing parks in NYC. The parks in the city are not like the parks anywhere else and serve as an amazing backdrop for a weekend brunch. This way, you can spend a little less on food and wine but get a little more. Grab a basket and have a brunch picnic. Grab a few bottles of wine, some pastries, jams, and savory additions and make your way to a park. Plus, you won’t have to wait ages for a table. Some of the parks that serve as a good brunch destination are:

The High Line: The High Line is such a great location that it’s one of the top choices for places to go in NYC on a Sunday morning. This is because it’s a unique and beautiful location created from freight rail line elevated above the city. Your wine can’t be in glass, and your brunch must be in the designated concessions area, but it’s a lovely place for a picnic brunch with your choice bottle of wine.

Central Park: Central Park is an NYC staple, and with a new take on rules about drinking in public, it’s become a popular area for a wine and a picnic. However, it’s still technically illegal, just decriminalized. Police officers now consider drinking in public to be low on their priority list given the other things that need their attention. So as long as you’re being respectful, chances are you won’t be given a summons.

Brooklyn Bridge Park: Brooklyn Bridge Park is amazing and offers views of city lights and, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge. Again, if you stay in designated areas and be respectful, you should be fine with your chardonnay and your toast and marmalade.

Spend Less on Food and More on Wine

In some cases, brunching on a budget involves finding the best deal on food in order to spend any extra cash on wine. The city is great for many reasons: it’s one of the best cities for young professionals, it’s a foodie’s dream location, and it is a place that really does have something for everyone. However, it’s also not a cheap city to live in. Luckily, New York has a lot to offer in terms of affordable and bottomless brunch options. Granted, they almost always get paired with mimosas and bloody marys, but don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life. If you’d rather have a sparkling wine, you do that. The key is knowing where to spend less on food so that you can spend more on wine.

The Bluebell Cafe – Manhattan: The Bluebell Cafe’s brunch starts early and is extremely affordable. They have a great wine selection as well as an amazing food selection.

Le Parisien – Manhattan: This bistro offers an amazing brunch special as well as a great selection of French and regional wines.

Agave – Manhattan: Agave tops the list of many brunch destinations in Manhattan. It’s located in the West Village and has a higher price tag than some other brunch locations, but the food is bottomless and the higher expense is well worth it.

Sweet Chick – Manhattan: The food is good and the drinks are great at Sweet Chick on Bedford Avenue. They even have vegetarian chicken and waffles.

Hosting Wine Brunch

Obviously, the best way to brunch on a budget in NYC is to host your own wine brunch at home. This way, you can focus on the wine you’d really like way cheaper than a glass you’d get at any restaurant. Talk to some friends and arrange a potluck, or do all the cooking yourself. Find some fun brunch recipes from cinnamon roll bakes to savory egg casserole dishes and enjoy brunch in the comfort of your own home. Create a buffet style spread and create some fun brunch pairings to go with it. When you host your own wine brunch, you have the freedom to create an atmosphere and menu that you’d prefer. So, for the ultimate in brunch and wine freedom as well as sticking to your budget, just stay in and create it on your own.

New York is an expensive city, there’s no doubt about that. When you already have to spend a fortune on rent, who can afford the extra expense that it takes to find a wine brunch? Well, everyone can if you get creative. Instead of following the crowd to the locations the rest of the city goes to on a Sunday, create your own hidden gems. Find the best free wine tastings next to an affordable breakfast, brave New York’s open container laws and take your own picnic brunch to the park, find the cheapest eats and spend your extra cash on nicer wine, or just host your own wine brunch with your people at home. New York is the city of possibilities, and that includes finding cheap brunch and a glass of wine.

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