here’s to the burg no. 4: downtown wine and gourmet

Despite what Jay says, I don’t think I’ve been to a wine tasting at Downtown Wine and Gourmet that wasn’t hoppin’. Brandy and I were hard pressed to get there by 7, when the free tasting technically ends—arriving by a narrow margin of eight minutes—but it looked far from over to us. What Jay meant was that the closing of Callie’s temporarily (and imperceptibly, to me) decreased traffic in the store, but now that the Capital Ale House is open, all’s well. Folks waiting for a table at the Ale House, as well as the general public, can, from 5 – 7pm on Fridays, moisten their palates with a fine sampling of featured wines at the wine shop. People always linger beyond 7, and no one’s gonna yank the glass out of your hand.

Owned by Jay and Amanda Monger, Downtown Wine and Gourmet is located in the Court Square Theatre building. They’re not just a wine shop, despite the cork floors and merlot-colored walls. They also sell cheese and other gourmet foods, coffee, brewing supplies, and a fine, FINE assortment of beer. Mm. Mm. Mm!

So… we tasted: Chateau De Fontenille White Bordeaux—delish. Kanu Chenin Blanc—delish. Vina Borgia Garnacha in a BOX (now we’re talkin’!). And Hendry HRW Zinfindel, which was a bit dry for me… but only because as I’ve aged, I’ve somehow become a thirstier person. Oh yes, and one “contraband” offering. Wait, did I type that or just think it? Woopsie.

Sean was our pourer—very friendly, thorough, and knowledgeable, even about each wine’s aroma… which I admit sorta fell on deaf ears (noses?) because I don’t wanna smell my wine—I wanna DRINK IT.

During our tasting we ran into the always delightful Tony Lopez of the local improv group No Strings Attached. Note to self: do a piece on them. That’s another great thing about the wine tasting: you run into folks you know, and then it’s like you’re at this fabulous cocktail party, minus the little black dress and pantyhose that keep getting twisted. And staticky.

Anyhow, I had to browse the beer while I was there (where you can build your own six-pack, and every time you do, you think, “I have created the best six-pack EVER!” until the next week when you top yourself. It’s quite a boost to the self-esteem.). It’s fun to peruse the beer section because of the labels. I know, I know—never judge a beer by its label, but when it features really great art, it’s pretty much irresistible. One of our faves is Flying Dog, whose labels feature art by Ralph Steadman (friends with George Stranahan and Hunter S. Thompson). See how educational this is? I mean, come on, people.

And that’s when we saw it: BACON AND MAPLE BEER. Breakfast beer! That ranks right up there with the purse closet at Granny Longlegs and Sunday brunch at the Grill. Hmmmm… brunch beer? And by the way, Downtown Wine and Gourmet hosts a free beer tasting every Saturday from 1 – 4pm.

Whether you need beer, wine, gourmet foods, coffee, or even handmade gift baskets, Downtown Wine and Gourmet has it all, and their laid-back, knowledgeable staff is more than happy to help you. Catch you there this Friday… and, why not, Saturday, too. <clink!>