12 wine bars in Montreal putting the spotlight on natural wine

Montreal is awash with brilliant wine bars. Nina Caplan recommends 12 of the best drinking spots in the Canadian city, a place where the natural wine scene is thriving

Words by Nina Caplan

rogue gorge montreal

Montreal knows its natural wine, and seems to have more great bars serving low-intervention wines per square foot than most cities have bars of any kind. Everyone you speak to knows another bar you simply have to try – and the list of the best Montreal wine bars below really is a drop in the unfined, unfiltered ocean. 

Of course, the wine world is currently intoxicated with natural wine. This is for many reasons, some of which may appear more reasonable than others. Some have an almost evangelical approach to it, with a declared passion for drinking something that to most people would seem uninteresting or downright nasty. Yet, there’s also a coltish beauty to some natural wines, with the sense it gives of having stumbled all ungainly into life and somehow, managed to stand without help. 

But why is Montreal particularly enamoured? The first reason is the existence of the SAQ – the Société des Alcools du Québéc, a government arm through which all the province’s wine, with very few exceptions, must be sold. Although there are a lot of pros and cons of this system, suffice to say an overseer this controlling – 20 years ago, the SAQ wouldn’t permit any wine with less than 10mg per bottle of sulphur – is a great stimulant to low-intervention anything. The amazing number of young, knowledgeable, enthusiastic sommeliers in the city may partially be a reaction to the faceless entity in the background.

Two wine bottles on a candlelit table
Buvette Chez Simone in Montreal is famous for its relaxed atmosphere, small plates, astute list and roast chicken (Photo: William Craig Moyes)

‘People here love food, they travel a lot and because they are French-speaking they have access to the many natural winemakers and wine shows there,’ says Martin Landry, who runs importer Wino and has just opened a bookshop of the same name devoted entirely to wine books in the Mile-End, a central neighbourhood. ‘Also, we are crazy people who want to import interesting things!’ And then he offers yet another recommendation of a Montreal wine bar to seek out. Yes, it made the cut…

12 of the best natural wine bars in Montreal


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Vin Mon Lapin

Vanya Filipovic started at Montreal’s gastronomic legend Joe Beef, learning on the job, which must have been nerve-wracking as that crazy restaurant became more famous. However, it’s not likely that Filipovic, charming and unflappable, actually has nerves. She does however have taste buds in profusion, and since she and her partner, ex-Joe Beef chef Marc-Olivier Frappier, took over this bright space in Little Italy, their banquettes have become the best launchpad for trips around the ever-changing universe of natural wine, washed down by exceptionally inventive dishes made with local ingredients. On my last visit, I was served an excellent Spanish Pet Nat in magnum. It was called Joy.
150 Rue Saint-Zotique E; vinmonlapin.com

Interior of VinVinVin in Montreal
(Photo: William Craig Moyes)


From the customised kitchen island crammed with interesting bottles on ice that greets you as you enter, to the cool graphics on the menu of tiny, delectable plates that only make you hungrier – and thirstier – this bar is pure pleasure. The non-judgmental staff offer guidance to the level of naturalness that feels natural, the homemade sourdough bread sops up the damage, and the decor, as bright and hip as the wine labels, lifts the spirits more than alcohol ever could.
1290 Rue Beaubien E;


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Petit Alep

This, the smaller next-door offshoot of a family-owned Syrian-Armenian restaurant that has been here beside the wonderful Jean-Talon food market, for nearly 50 years, is one of very few establishments with space to store bottles, and they take full advantage. The list is overseen by Tania Frangié and ranges from obscure naturalistas in the Auvergne to a 2014 David Léclapart Champagne. Frangié’s mother, Jacqueline, is still in the kitchen working her magic, at nearly 80.
191 Rue Jean-Talon E;

Bar Pullman interior Montreal
(Photo: Bar Pullman)

Bar Pullman

At this marvellous joint, one of the first of Montreal’s modern wine bars and still one of the best, the chandelier is big and the plates are small. The former, made of upended wine glasses, is spectacular, but glasses here should be full. It is possible to spend hours, and fortunes – although prices are reasonable – sampling glasses of a Tuscan orange wine, or a Quebec Seyval-Chardonnay blend, or one of Jean Foillard’s excellent Morgons. The decor is a symphony in warm wood and brick and the dim sum-style food menu, with boxes to tick, is a cute touch.
3424 Park Ave;

larry's wine bar
(Photo: William Craig Moyes)


First came Boucherie Lawrence, a proper hipster butcher (and baker) on Montreal’s famous St Lawrence Boulevard, aka The Main, which historically divided Anglophone from French-speaking Montreal. This is where this Hackney exile, missing her sourdough, came for succour, or microbrews, or just to marvel at the bearded guys wielding their butcher’s knives behind the counter. Larry’s was the tiny bar next to the restaurant they opened next, but it has now taken over that space too, and when it isn’t jammed with happy people eating and drinking wonderful things, it’s closed.
5201 St Laurent Blvd;


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Café Denise

In a tiny space in Parc Ex, the up-and-coming neighbourhood west of Jean-Talon market, lives a natural wine bar with a Vietnamese spin on the dishes – noodles and rice, shishito peppers and sake sauce, but also the burrata and salmon and heritage tomatoes that a Montrealer might more usually expect. Morgane Muszynski’s wine list may be larger than the venue, and ranges the world’s natural vineyards from the Canary Islands to the Czech Republic to Oregon – of course – and Quebec.
386 Beaumont Ave;

Busy Bar Suzanne in Montreal
(Photo: Bar Suzanne)

Bar Suzanne

‘The staff are on holiday,’ announced a sign on the door (in French) when I tried to visit in early September. ‘On Sunday and Monday, we will be at our chalet with our feet in the lake. Sorry for any inconvenience!’ Now really, how could a place with that attitude not be fabulous? Up a staircase is a loft-style space, its skylight bowered with hanging plants, stuffed with intriguing bottles, interesting people, oysters, artichokes with miso mayonnaise, and a list of dumplings that’s nearly as long as the carte des vins.
20 Duluth Ave E;

Food and wine at Tinc Set in Montreal
(Photo: Sav Collective)

Tinc Set

Tinc Set (the name means ‘I’m thirsty’ in Catalan) is the third project of sommelière Lindsay Brennan and her husband, chef Juan Lopez Luna: they import Catalan wines and run Alma, a great restaurant focussed on combining those wines with dishes using local products. During the pandemic, they started selling Barcelona-style fried chicken, and now Alma has this little sister next door, serving tapas, bocadillos (sandwiches) and good northern Spanish wines to drink beneath industrial lamps or take home – all, as the Francophones say, à la bonne franquette: without any fuss.
1233 Av. Lajoie;


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Great wine by the glass, the bottle, to take home, even on tap: Supernat, brainchild of a pulmonologist-turned-barista and an estate agent, is so laid back the decor includes casually unfinished walls and the menu consists entirely of sandos – Asian fusion sandwiches on Hokkaido bread. But the hipster credentials are impeccable: all that good wine, plus a coffee blend made specially for them, Negronis served with a beer foam and tattoo evenings where a glass of wine is included in the price of your ink.
4316 St Catherine St E;

Interior of Rouge Gorge bar Montreal
(Photo: David Boyer Photographer)

Rouge Gorge

‘Yes, we have some very funky wines,’ the waitress admitted cheerfully, ‘But you are welcome to try first!’ That just about sums up the Montreal bar scene, really, as well as this bar, with its marble-topped circular bar and intricate lighting, on Avenue Mont-Royal – a great street for friperies (secondhand clothing) and librairies d’occasion (secondhand bookshops). The food is joyously mix ‘n’ match – goat’s cheese or salmon sashimi, gnocchi or fried wantons with black pudding – and the wine list long enough to accommodate all of it, as well as a level of funkiness to suit everyone.
1234 Mont-Royal Ave E;


This tiny joint in the Villeray neighbourhood, run by a chef father and sommelière daughter – Armand and Rosalie Forcherio – had the misfortune to open in late 2019. But thank goodness, it has survived. Channelling Italy and the Forcherio’s native Nice, the menu is unabashedly pro-offal, but for those not thrilled by tripe or tongue, there are clams or duck or artichokes or some form of pasta. Nobody goes hungry – or thirsty, thanks to a relatively short but perfectly formed list packed with Pét-Nats, orange wines, interesting reds and whites and even sherry from the eclectic Equipo Navazos.
8521 St Laurent Blvd; 

Moody interior of Buvette Chez Simone
(Photo: William Craig Moyes)

Buvette Chez Simone/Bar à Flot

Here is another pair of co-owned neighbouring bars – both so clearly designed for the discerning, slightly peckish drinker that I couldn’t exclude either. That said, they are very different: BCS the old-timer, here since 2008, famous for its relaxed atmosphere, small plates, astute list and roast chicken. BàF on the other hand is brand new, leaning more towards seafood snacks and entire bottles. Still, they both benefit from a joint venture with Montreal market garden operation La Fermette. In summer, there’s no better place to observe Montreal life than their adjoining terraces.
4869/4857 Park Ave;