Being a wine enthusiast, I spend a fair amount of time keeping an eye out for great ways to indulge my passion. Although I have to admit, the local wine bar is not usually the place you would find me sipping wine. Generally, I prefer to enjoy my wine experience in an environment where I can learn a lot about what is in my glass.
A few days ago — bored, with nothing on the agenda — I decided to visit the local wine bar/room. Armed with my laptop and cell phone in hand, ready to take notes and photos, I walked into the wine bar. I took a seat at a table in the front corner of the establishment.
Wooden and metal tables & chairs, a large half-moon bar, and a comfy looking couch way back in the opposite corner of the room complete the decor in the room. The floor inside is concrete, and the medium-sized space has glass slider doors that open to a patio lined in heavy zippered plastic — not exactly your typical wine bar/room decor. But, I was here for the tasting experience, not the decor.
In the rear of the establishment, there is a small wine shop, which has a pretty decent selection of wines available for retail purchase. Previously, I visited the retail area and purchased a few bottles.
The Wine Bar Secret
Today, I was back to get the full experience. Although I have to admit, I was seriously skeptical of what that would be. Upon receiving a menu, I quickly began to scan the wine list — mostly common options by the bottle or the glass. Interestingly enough, I didn’t see any options for wine flights, so of course, I asked. That’s my first secret — always ask. Ordering three glasses of different wines can quickly break the budget. However, a flight will generally be priced similarly to one glass (depending upon the flight options available).
Before I move onto my tasting experience, I would like to share another secret with you!
Are you ready to hear this!
The Biggest Wine Bar Secret Revealed; Keep an Eye Out
Do not buy a bottle of wine for consumption in a wine room/bar! Not even when the environment appears much less formal. Well, not unless you really, really want to.
Obviously, those who frequent wine bars likely already know the deal. On-the-other-hand, there are folks out there like me who perhaps have never paid attention. You might be one of those people. If you are, keep reading!
Wine bar bottle prices are often double or triple the retail cost. Additionally, you may be charged a corkage fee or an upcharge on the bottle for popping the cork. Yes, even though you purchased it as a separate retail purchase from the establishment.
Consuming 3 to 4 glasses of wine (hopefully, you have a designated driver) for $5 to $12 each is generally still much cheaper than the cost of a decent bottle in a wine bar or restaurant.
Once my tasting was completed, I found two of the three wines I sampled intriguing. I decided to buy a bottle of each. I hesitated when I noticed the bottle price ($25 each) on the menu. However, I was up for a little splurging today, so I asked to have them added to my check. Imagine my surprise, when the price on the sales check was $15 per bottle. I quickly realized the price on the menu applied only if you pop the cork inside the bar.
Although the establishment may sell retail bottles, be aware the rules change once the bottle is opened.
Of course in a restaurant, typically wine is only sold by the glass or bottle, and all prices are listed accordingly on the menu. Some restaurants will allow you to bring in your own wine and charge a corkage fee. Corkage rules and costs vary according to the restaurant. Beware, they can be quite expensive — therefore, be sure to check ahead of time.
Now On To The Tasting
The three wines that I selected for my tasting flight were based on the overall white wine options available. Each of these wines are available at a suggested retail price under $13.
Ok, obviously, there are going to be some critics out there who will immediately focus on the price. When tasting a wine, I try to stay focused on the quality, not the cost.
Here are my tasting notes for each:
Petit – Chenin Blanc 2017
Bright and crisp! Yellow apples, citrus and tropical fruit with hints of fresh cut grass. On the palate, crisp ripe apples, and zesty citrus. The subtle mineral notes, pear and honeysuckle are almost lost in the short finish due to the zippy acidity.
This wine is refreshing, and a nice everyday sipper. I recommend serving it nicely chilled on a hot summer day.
Pair with summer salads, baked or roasted chicken or seafood.
The Y Series – Viognier 2018
Beautiful golden hue in the glass. Ripe stone fruit, citrus and floral nose that follows through to the palate in a more pronounced way. Dry to taste, medium-full bodied, medium acidity, slight mineral and honey on the smooth finish.
This wine is very drinkable. If you have tried Viognier in the past and you are still not a fan, I would definitely recommend you try this one.
Chardonnay, Viognier, and Pinot Grigio work harmoniously together in this proprietary blend.
Off-dry. Nice florals and very ripe tree fruit notes. Nicely balanced, refreshing table wine that would pair well with any hot summer day.
All-around, all three of these extremely budget friendly wines were pleasant. I purchased a bottle of both the Childress and Yalumba wines. All of the wines I sampled are available online for purchase.
I paired this tasting with the Jalapeno Chicken Flatbread (jalapenos, onions, mozzarella, and ranch) offered on the menu.
Food & Wine Tip
Food affects the taste of wine, so be sure you taste the wines prior to eating to achieve the full tasting experince. Additionally, doing so will allow you to select a food option that will pair well with the wine(s) you taste.
For obvious reasons (I live in NC) I chose the North Carolina producer. But, I have to admit, I was surprised to see any local wine on the menu. It was the only one. When available, I always suggest checking out the local options.
Overall the tasting experience was just okay for me. While I did not expect a super elegant – or even, a typical tasting experience – the overall experience was still a bit disappointing. Although, the wine bar/room was clearly very casual it would have been helpful to have the server provide some wine suggestions for the flight. I was left to my own devices most of the time and checked on by the server very minimally once business picked up — a chili cook-off was gearing up. Without any doubt, I quickly realized my experience was complete.
I have deliberately chosen to refrain from naming the business in my blog post. I want this informative post to be more about what the title implies, rather than the calling-out of the establishment.
Wine tasting experiences can be extraordinary if you do a little research in advance and plan for the type of experience your expecting.
Cheers to your wine travels!