2008_04_sparklingwine.jpgThe NY Times' Eric Asimov highlights the proliferation of wine bars throughout the city (131 at last count by newyorkwinebarguide.com), particularly those offering snacks and small plates far beyond the charcuterie and cheese one might typically expect. And they're not all Italian either.

In fact, Asimov spans the globe in his wine bar visits: Spain at Pata Negra, France at Solex, and South Africa at Xai Xai. The lower cost of real estate involved in a wine bar compared to a full-on restaurant has allowed owners to open mini-restaurants of sorts, with creative yet small kitchen-ish spaces, offering small but tasty menus.

Of those mentioned in the article, we'd certainly recommend Gottino, Solex and Terroir from first hand experience (really, who can resist a menu that has a section called "fried stuff"?), but there are other standbys you should add to your list, although they're not as new, including Total Wine Bar in Park Slope, Bar Carrera and Bar Veloce (the old guard), Batali's Bar Jamon, and relative newcomer the 8th Street Wine Cellar, which not only has an approachable wine list and a menu that changes seasonally, but also has a selection of craft brewed beers and a full bar for the non-oenophiles among your friends.

Photo: a trio of sparking wine from Blue Ribbon Bar.