Tag Archives: Morelli’s

The Savvy Lush’s favorite wine shops in the Twin Cities.

I’m often asked, “Hey S.L., where should I buy wine in the Twin Cities?” I usually answer this question with a question.

“Where do you live?” because let’s be honest, you’re going to shop where it’s convenient. There are several stores all around the metro. I hope you have your go-to haunt with friendly staff who know you and your palate so well you rarely walk out with a stinker.

If not, or you’re wanting to switch things up, I recommend my favorite wine shops in the Twin Cities.  (The only one that didn’t make the cut was Costco – this is hit or miss. Don’t ask for help because it won’t be helpful; you have to do your own research but that research can yield you some great deals!)

Morelli’s – East Saint Paul

  • Morelli’s isn’t going to blow your mind. It’s not full of sexy gimmicks, or newfangled splendor. It’s a no frills, get in and get out kinda haunt. But, they’ve been doing it for decades and that’s gotta count for something. From what I could tell, it does. Likely [and appropriately] grandfathered in as both a deli and a liquor store, this cash ONLY place is delightfully old school down to the cute old man who delivers your libations to the car. Grab some Chianti in a fiasco (straw basket) and hit the freezer aisle for a made-in-house frozen pizza.

Solo Vino – Cathedral Hill, Saint Paul

  • Chuck and company will entertain you as much as they’ll direct you toward a wine you’ll love. Their rustic yet tidy shop is open and spacious allowing for a sizable tasting bar and room for your pooch to crotch sniff. Plus, they may have the largest Rose selection in the city. Chuck is a huge proponent of the “drink pink” movement. Want to know more? Their Rose Fest is on May 16.

Thomas Liquors – Grand Avenue, Saint Paul

  • An unpretentious store on Grand Avenue [no, really], Thomas Liquors isn’t a boastful booze mart- but it has every right to be. Peruse the narrow aisles and you’ll find an impressive selection of wines. I love it because of their knowledgeable staff. If you stop by, ask Peter for a recommendation, then thank me later.

Little Wine Shoppe – Como Saint Paul

  • This cozy little place isn’t joking when they call themselves “little”. Wee is more like it. This place reminds me of little bottle shops in Italy. They have a modest selection, but make no mistake: this place is about the people. Everyone is greeted with a hometown smile and impeccable service. Pam is a sweetheart. You’ll want to open your bottle right then and there.

Zipp’s Liquors – Seward, Minneapolis

  • Zipp’s has changed since my days of buying ½ barrels of Michelob Amber Bock. It’s just undergone another facelift and the store has never been better. Now under the direction of Somm. Erica, the selection is vast and never stale. She gets exciting new things in all the time. Belly up to the new tasting bar, and sip on samples.

South Lyndale Liquors – Southwest Minneapolis

  • This is a place I don’t get to often but when I do, I ask myself, “why don’t I come here more often?” Mitch is a personable and down-to-earth dude. It ain’t fancy but hot-damn do they get some bitchin’ wines! Ask Mitch for a Beaujolais reco or something he found on his recent trip to Italy, and he’ll gladly oblige.

Hennepin Lake Liquors – Uptown Minneapolis

  • Cute and charmingly cramped, this should be your go-to booze destination in Uptown. They feature a surprisingly diverse selection of vino, beer and now they even take credit cards! Way to be so “21st Century” guys.

Sentyrz Market – Northeast Mpls

  • This is the Northeast equivalent to Morelli’s. Booze and food married together, but done Eastern European style. Sure, you get some yokels buying up Fireball 100 and Colt 45, but Peter has a quietly impressive wine collection. I steer clear of the produce, but go in back to the meat market for a hunk of pig, then grab some Pinot to wash it down.

Byerly’s Ridgedale – Minnetonka

  • There are very few things that get me to leave the city. Byerly’s Ridgedale is one of them. This shop comes with Rodney Brown: a friendly, bellowing man who prides himself in caring for his customers just as much as he cares about wine. Remember, wine is personal. Do you let any Tom, Dick or Harry cut your hair or give you a physical? No, hell no. This is the shop to get privy about new or rare wines, deals on limited stock and any time Rodney says a wine is “stupid good”, I buy it. I’m such a push over.


Liber Pater Cirò Rosso from Ippolito 1845

Cost: Average price $14

Where buy now: Solo Vino, Zipp’s, Sentyrz, Sunfish Cellars, France 44, Premier Liquors

Grapes: Gaglioppo

Region: Italy

Vintage: 2011

Liber Pater Cirò Rosso

I’m not going to grumble about how this was the worst winter in the history of the world and I’m on more meds now than ever. What I’ll do instead is recount how I made it through the doom and gloom: by finding comfort.

In times of strife, we look for a comfort zone, that place of stability often called a “happy place.” My “happy place” happens to snuggle between a good bottle of red wine and a delicious hand made pizza.

I found nirvana, if for only an hour, with a bottle of Ippolito Liber Pater Cirò Rosso. Why was it so comforting? So familiar? So enjoyable? Could it be that this wine hails from Calabria where half my maternal ancestry is from?

When referring to Italy as boot-shaped, Calabria is the region in Southern Italy that forms “the toe”. This red wine is 100% gaglioppo (gah-L’YEE-OHP-poh) hand harvested grapes that are locally grown. Liber Pater (meaning Free Father in the fancy, dead language that is Latin) Rosso includes flavors of smoke, earth and sour cherry hitting your tastebuds with soft herbs and lingering tannins haunting you after you’ve swallowed.

I was recently tipped off to St. Paul’s Morelli’s Market. Have you been? http://www.morellismarket.com/Morelli’s Market Morelli’s isn’t going to blow your mind. it’s nothing much to look at on the outside nor the inside. It’s not full of sexy gimmicks, or newfangled splendor. It’s a no frills, get in and get out kinda haunt. But, they’ve been doing it for decades and that’s gotta count for something. From what I could tell, it does. Likely (and appropriately) it was grandfathered in as both a deli and a liquor store, fully equipped with an old man delivering your libations to the car. [Oh, and did I mention this place is cash ONLY?] I walked up to the freezer “aisle” and saw made-in-house frozen pizzas. I grabbed a sausage and mushroom topped pie, probably a vino of some kind, and off I went.

To home I sped, sliding along the frosty roads, to find my happy place. Turned on the oven to preheat, and cracked open the Liber Pater Rosso so it could breathe a bit. When the pie finally finished, I pulled it out of the oven, and, it was kind of, well, beautiful. The crust crisped to perfection and oozed creamy mozzarella over the sides. Homemade sausage and plump mushrooms glistened as if proud to be on this masterpiece. One sip of the Liber Pater Rosso to marry the flavors in my mouth made me want to get down and thank God for my taste buds. I was home, I was comfortable and I was whole.

If you’re looking for a dose of comfort and stability, or your boss is being a dick and you need an omni-pleasing, hit the spot sensation, grab a bottle of Ippolito’s Liber Pater Cirò Rosso and a Morelli’s pizza. Even if you’re not Italian, you can take their (our?) cue to eat, drink and enjoy life like one.