This Bywater standby recently opened a craft cocktail bar on its second floor, but its wine selection is what packs the banana plant- and tiki torch-strewn backyard: there's live music nightly, no cover, no corkage fee and eats by chef Joaquin Rodas until midnight daily. 600 Poland Ave., 504-948-9111; www.bacchanalwine.com, @BacchanalWine
This shop caters to the Bywater's sophisticated palates and bohemian budgets (there are more than 100 wines that cost $15 or less). The bar, candlelit tables, outdoor seating and $2 corkage fee invite customers to sit and sip, and neighbors come out in droves for the free wine tastings on Wednesdays. 2805 St. Claude Ave., (504) 342-2217; www.facebook.com/FaubourgWines
Pearl Wine Co.
The shop offers more than 600 wines (ranging in price from $7 to $2,000), and customers can drink their selection in the newly renovated bar for a $5 corkage fee. There's live jazz Friday and Saturday nights, free wine tastings from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and on Mondays, $20 gets you a martini and a manicure. American Can Company, 3700 Orleans Ave., Suite 1C, (504) 483-6314; www.pearlwineco.com, @NOLAWineBar
Swirl makes it easy for novice oenophiles to expand their palates, with wines organized by characteristic ("soft and lush" or "supple and refined"). The emphasis is on quality, affordable wines and most are priced under $25. There's a $5 corkage fee and indoor and outdoor seating. 3143 Ponce de Leon St., 504- 304-0635; www.swirlinthecity.com, @SwirlNOLA
The Wine Institute of New Orleans in the CBD serves more than 120 wines by the ounce (via a state-of-the-art Italian dispensing machine) or the bottle. Pop a bottle, sidle up to the table and nosh on small plates of cheese, pate and charcuterie while you wait to join one of the bar's weekly wine tasting classes. 610 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 324-8000; www.winoschool.com, @Winoschool