In Paris in 1989, we often went to wine bars, and we thought that we knew what they were: places where the emphasis was on drinking wine. At sort of a bar. Not too many tables. Not too much food. I remember one wine bar that had small plates of sausage and maybe also cheese, brought from the owner's home village to go with the wine no doubt made by his village relatives from grapes grown nearby.
Well, I wasn't very scientific, was I. An article in today's New York Times has a real definition of a wine bar, due to one Mr. Yarrow: “A wine bar has to serve wine by the bottle, ... and by the glass and the taste. It can't be a regular bar that also has wine. It can be a restaurant, but there has to be a separate seating area for wine drinking only. And it has to have more than a few wines — at least five — in a changing list. And it can't be a retailer with a small tasting area in the corner.”
Who knew? I don't remember any wine by the taste in those Paris wine bars.
See: San Francisco Wine Bars: Snobless Sipping Where a Glassful Is Just a Glassful