And yes, you will. My Skank Wine of the Month is a little above my $6 threshold but it’s in a can which deems itself skank-worthy.
I grabbed a can of Fiction Red Wine Blend out of sheer curiosity. It’s a kitchen sink Cali blend and I was shockingly surprised. Cheeky, but I liked it!
Some thirty-something year old cat in California has a job that exposes him to some valuable grapes. He buys them up around the state and blends them into a wine he enjoys and now cans (for the cool kids.)
This wine is novel and has it’s place in the back pack of a bicyclist, in a cup holder on a boat or in your hand at a concert. This wine is deep ruby red boasting dried blackberry fruit flavor, herbs and mineral sweat. It’s like the thinnest kid at fat camp; confident enough to hold it’s own within it’s field.
Grill up some skin on wieners or my new fave – the Cherry Bomb Brat at Kramarczuk’s and crack a can. While your friends suck down PBR or the new Miller LITE throw back tall boys, you’ll pull this out and be all classy and shit.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yo estoy enamorado de vino de Rioja, Viña Ardanza. This baby will set you back a cool $35, but baby, it’s so worth it. I know, I know, my last wine choice was under $10 and this one is more than $30, what gives? All I can say is that my wine drinking habits are about as bipolar as I am. I never said I made sense.
I first experienced this wine last Fall at Terroir in TriBeCa, NYC. We were on vacation, and our mantra: fuck money, let’s do this right. While at the bar, I asked the keep what she’d been drinking lately. The gal poured me a taste of this wine. “Hmmm,” I thought, “I do like Rioja.”
Swirl, smell, sip.
Eyes rolled back in my head. Hot. Damn.
I asked for a full pour. She advised it was $18 a glass. You know what, I didn’t even balk. Not because I was on vacation, but because it was worth every penny.
A bit surprised, she blessed me with a very generous pour. I savored that pour for a good long while.
It haunted me.
Flash forward three months and I found myself at Thomas Liquors on a Saturday at 9:30 pm, sneaking in during the last ½ hour of their wine sale. I’m perusing, grabbing comfort bottles here and there. Then, I looked up, and… There it was. Viña Ardanza Reserva Rioja 2004, sitting proudly on the top shelf. An overhead bulb mimicked that of a spotlight, it’s gaze directly showcasing this glorious bottle. As if in a trance, I slowly extended my arm and gently reached for the bottle. Oh, I was so giddy!
I’ve written about other Riojas but not one of this caliber. A quick reminder Rioja is not a grape varietal rather it is wine made with grapes from the La Rioja region of Spain. Grape varietals include: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo and Macabeo. La Rioja Alta is a winery celebrating 125 years. Back in 1942, they registered Viña Ardanza (now their most famous wine) which is dominantly a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha.
This Rioja has all the moves! The foreplay, the love-making and the knee weakening orgasm all in one bottle. It embodies the weathered love of plump ruby red fruit in concert with rich, supple spice, vanilla and leather. This is balanced out by commanding, yet, soft tannins and a finish that does not over stay it’s welcome. Tastebuds flare in delight as the delicate tannins and acidity create structure telling you this is it – this is THE one. You tenderly swallow this wine, your heavy eyelids falling victim to the Rioja’s seduction. Eyes closed, you pause to catch your breath (not too fast- you don’t want to be selfish). However, your breathing begins to amp up again knowing you get to enjoy this moment over and over and over again (until you drain the bottle dry.)
Need a tissue?
Wine for Slobs, Snobs & Swells | The Savvy Lush welcomes the Twin Cities' Sippers & Swillers