Pandering to the Palate
shop owners eager to share
wine drinkers can learn a lot
by attending these free, fun, social events
(December 2012) When Erik and Jennifer Grove
bought the former Perry-Dunbar Pharmacy in Madison in 2006, the business
came with a liquor license. Without giving it much thought at the time,
the license suddenly offered the Groves an unexpected side business
opportunity for their newly named Madison Apothecary: the sale of wine.
Eriks love for wine and his interest in learning more about wine
led him to enroll in classes in Cincinnati to eventually become a certified
sommelier. Today, he holds a second level of that certification and
enjoys serving a large number of regular wine customers in Madison with
his significant collection of wines. He brings in wine distributors
each month to hold wine tastings during special events. And he enjoys
teaching others about wine.
As a result of these efforts, Madison Apothecary has perhaps the largest
wine selection in town.
There is a surprisingly large number of sophisticated wine drinkers
in Madison, and most of them are regular customers of mine, said
Grove, 35. Theres probably about 200 people who buy wine
from me, and they have a pretty good knowledge of wine. Its something
I really enjoy.
With the holidays upon us, many people are planning parties and special
events, and with that often comes decisions about wine what kind
to serve with what foods? Red or white or blush? What brands or types?
What price range? There is so much to learn about wine, it can be somewhat
intimidating to those who may not regularly drink wine.
Apothecary, 835 W. Main St., Madison, Ind. (812) 265-4621.
Sommelier Erik Grove. (Tastings are $10 and held on the Fourth
Friday of each month. Call about special tasting events)
The Wine Rack, 2632 Frankfort Ave., Louisville,
Ky. (502) 721-9148. Sommelier John Johnson. Visit: www.wineshoplouisville.com
(Free wine tastings every Thursday from 5:30-7:30 p.m.)
Westport Whiskey & Wine, 1115 Herr Lane,
Louisville, Ky. (502) 708-1313. Owners Richard and Wendy Splan
and Chris Zaborowski and Robin Penick. Visit: www.westportwhiskeyandwine.com
(Free wine tastings every Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m.)
4 Flights Wine Boutique, 9440 Norton Commons
Blvd., Louisville, Ky. Owners Alex Tinker, Neil Morgan, Jim Frazier.
(502) 718-0842. Visit: www.4FlightsWine.com
(Free wine tastings every Tuesday evening)
Taste of Fine Wines & Spirits, 634 E. Market
St., Louisville, Ky. (502) 409-4646. Sommelier Paul Meyer. Visit:
(Weekly tastings and happy hours)
The Wine Market, 1200 Bardstown Rd., Louisville,
Ky. (502) 451-7446. Visit: www.thewinemarket.net
Old Town Wine & Spirits Inc., 1529 Bardstown
Rd., Louisville, Ky. (502) 451-8591. Visit: www.oldtownwine.com
& Indiana wineries
on Wine Education
Fortunately, wine has become a hot commodity in recent
years as more people become interested and seek ways to learn more about
it through classes or better yet wine tastings at area
boutique wine stores. There are several such wine stores in Louisville,
each with its own style and approach to wine tastings. It is there that
wine shop owners, distributors and sommeliers eagerly talk about wine
and feature new types for customers to taste and buy. Many offer weekly
wine tastings, either for free or with a small charge. In some case,
these weekly tastings have become popular social events, in and of themselves.
Here is a look at a few of the popular wine shops offering such opportunities
to learn about and of course, taste wine.
Madison Apothecary in Madison, Ind. As mentioned
earlier, the Groves offer a substantial selection of wines from California,
Washington state and around the world Chili, Argentina, Spain,
Portugal, Greece, France, Italy and Australia. The Groves offer wine
tastings for $10 to sample up to 10 wines each month during the Madison
Main Street Programs Fourth Friday events. Other special Reserve
Wine tastings also are organized for those with a more sophisticated
taste and price range to sample more expensive wines.
I took the master sommelier course so I would better understand
wines and be able to discuss wines with my customers, Grove said.
Ive tasted most of the wine I have in this store. Im
not going to stock anything I dont like because the worst case
scenario would be that I dont sell it and have to drink it myself.
by Don Ward
Morgan (left) of 4 Flights
Wine Boutique discusses a wine
with customers Karen Willis
and Mark McCloud.
4 Flights Wine Boutique, Louisville,
Ky. When Alex and Meghan Tinker bought a town home in Norton Commons,
near Oldham County, the couple wanted to open some type of retail business
in the first floor. After talking with other residents, they decided
there was a need for a wine shop. The two loved wine, anyway, and found
this to be the perfect side business to their busy regular jobs.
Tinker partnered with two other men Jim Frazier and Neil
Morgan to open 4 Flights Wine Boutique four years ago. The store
has grown and moved next door to a larger location in Norton Commons,
next to Karems Deli. In addition to offering weekly free wine
tastings on Tuesday nights, 4 Flights Wine teams with Karems every
quarter to offer a wine dinner, which introduces wine drinkers to new
wines and wine-food pairings.
Tinker is passionate about wine and offers this advice to newcomers:
The best way to learn about wine is to go around to the various
boutique stores and talk with the owners and taste wine. These people
are in the business because they have a passion for it, like me.
Tinker says that to some, wine drinking may have a connotation of snobbiness,
but it doesnt have to be that way at all. In fact, he makes every
effort to make customers comfortable when discussing and tasting wine.
I want them to get a real fun experience and not a snobby experience,
and to come to enjoy it.
Home parties and wine dinners offer other opportunities to share and
learn about wine, he added. Theres really no right answer
when it comes to wine because everyones palate is different. Thats
the fun of it.
by Don Ward
customers at his Taste
of Fine Wine & Spirits.
Taste of Fine Wines & Spirits,
Louisville, Ky. Paul Meyer sold cars for 35 years and then bought a
liquor package store on Frankfort Avenue. He offered free samples but
his accountant told him he was losing too much money doing so. So when
the NuLu business district started developing on East Market Street,
he opened a wine and bourbon boutique shop, Taste of Fine Wines &
Spirits there on Oct. 1, 2011, complete with a tasting license. This
meant he could now sell wine and bourbon by the taste or glass, in addition
to carryout bottles. His store offers a cozy, five-table atmosphere
inside and an outdoor patio where customers can sit and drink wine.
Customers can carry anything out as long as it hasnt been
opened, says Meyer, 63.
Meyer offers wine tastings anytime. He sells tastes of wine from $3
to $5. Glasses of wine range from $6 to $10. His bourbon tastes are
We are really busy here during the monthly Trolley Hop and during
special events, he said.
Meyer says the advantage of the smaller boutique wine shops like his
are that he can buy more variety of specialty wines in small case productions.
That offers more variety for his customers who like to try new wines.
I dont compete against the big box stores, and I dont
want to, he says. Here, you get to taste a wine before you
Meyer serves a large base of repeat customers, and because of his location
in the popular, chic NuLu District, he gets lots of walk-in traffic.
He puts 10 new wines on the board every Tuesday for people to taste.
I try to learn about these new wines from my distributors so I
can talk intelligently about them to my customers. You can always be
sure to find something new on the board to try here.
by Don Ward
left, business partners
Richard Splan and Chris Zaborowski
pose inside Westport Whiskey &
Wine store where they
hold weekly tastings.
Westport Whiskey & Wine, Louisville,
Ky. Chris Zaborowski spent 30 years in the food and beverage industry
before he and his wife, Robin Penick, teamed up with partners Richard
and Wendy Splan to open Westport Whiskey & Wine in Westport Village
Shopping Center. When the store first opened in June 2008, the recession
hit a few months later, so it took a while before the new shopping center
filled up with stores. But now the center is vibrant and active with
shoppers and wine and bourbon enthusiasts who show up each Thursday
night for a fun social time of wine and bourbon tastings.
Additional tastings are held on Tuesday nights. The store opened before
the new Westport Road exit was built on the Watterson Expressway. Now
the new exit has made the Westport Village much more accessible to area
So every Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m., the store fills up with eager customers
who want to try new wines and bourbons from area distributors. The price
is right: $5 for five tastes of wine.
The store also offers a classroom style of wine education every quarter,
and beer sessions as well. The store has both a bar and package license
so it can sell wine by the taste or bottle.
by Don Ward
Clair, a distributor for Southern Wine Spirits, pours a glass
of wine for Mimi Sims, who attended the Nov. 28 wine tasting at
Westport Whiskey & Wine in Louisville, Ky. The store is located
in Westport Village Shopping Center.
Splan said he befriended Zaborowski after having taken
a class from him on wine 18 years ago. Chris has a unique skill
set when it comes to food and wine, so it made good business sense to
open a store like this with him, Splan said.
Zaborowski said his customers range from the novice wine drinkers to
the expert. They come to try new wine and have a good time doing
it, he said. We offer a casual atmosphere and always have
knowledgeable distributors on hand to tell people about what they are
drinking. It makes for a fun and casual and educational experience.
Westport Whiskey & Wine is a large, fully stocked store with a small
store atmosphere. A staff of seven employees is available to serve the
customers. We try to make people feel comfortable when they come
in. Our approach here is like being in the hospitality business, and
yes, we sell wine and spirits. We try to be a resource for people when
it comes to wine and helping people with wine-food pairings.
Whether its learning about wine or simply tasting wine for fun,
these wine shops offer a great way to enjoy wine especially
around the holidays. Area colleges, such as Bellarmine University, also
offer continuing education classes on wine. These classes teach students
how to describe wine, smell wine, taste wine and understand the influence
of climate and winemaking on the taste and flavor of wine, and also
the basic varietal flavors of wine.
You dont have to be a snob to enjoy wine. But most would agree
that the more you know about wine, the more you will enjoy it.
Maybe those wine snobs are on to something!
Back to December 2012