A craft-beer-loving buddy recently pointed me in the direction of Bine and Vine Bottle Shop. When I visited the place, smack in the heart of Normal Heights (3334 Adams Ave.) and a stone's throw from my apartment, I was pleasantly surprised to learn how important the "Vine" part of the name is.
Rows of wood bins lined with wine bottles take up the majority of the shop. Imported wines are organized by locale while domestics are matched by varietal. Each bottle is labeled with an informational tag that includes tasting and cellaring notes. There was much to explore.
I expected inflated prices common to smaller wine shops. Luckily, there are plenty of worthy options in the $10-to-$20 range, and even higher-end bottles are reasonably priced. Plus, if you buy six bottles, you get 10 percent off. Guess how many I usually leave with.
Wine buyer and professional sommelier Stephen Ansley takes a lot of pride in what goes into those bins. Chatting with him revealed his careful practices for proper wine storage and lessons learned working at BevMo for several years. He also explained that he tries almost every wine offered in the shop, constantly looking for good deals so he can pass on savings to customers and stay competitive with major retailers.
After multiple visits, I can attest to the quality-for-the-price factor. I picked up one of my favorite affordable wines, Peachy Canyon Incredible Red, for a few dollars less than I've seen at other shops. I also discovered the NxNW Horse Heaven Hills Riesling. This dry, crisp white has the right amount of citrus flavors and none of the sweetness found in most Rieslings. I've been back for it twice already.
While most of the customers I saw did come for beer, it's only a matter of time before wine shoppers catch on. This is the kind of shop that carries recognizable standbys alongside interesting finds, so, like me, you'll likely find reasons to come back and avoid the herds in grocery-store wine aisles.