Wine Authorities, Durham, NC, Discussion Thread
So Wine Authorities is currently in soft opening. They're not advertising right now, but I figure those who read this board are likely invested enough in wine to find this significant and intelligent enough to understand that what you may see at the store now is not evocative of what it will will be.
With that said, I'm already very impressed based on my visit today. Things aren't finished as of yet, but the place seems to have struck a good balance between laid back, quirky, and informative. I had a nice conversation with Craig this afternoon and he gave me a rundown of what to expect. I like the store's focus on small, value-oriented estate producers. While my budget for wine is pretty much value-driven overall, this place has a diverse selection and nothing you look at will induce too severe a case of sticker shock.
A couple things to look forward to: fun yet informative classes taught by guys who seem to know what they're talking about; a wine dispensing machine from Italy that will automatically pour tastes, half-glasses, and glasses of eight types of wine. I'm very excited about this place.
Ah - thanks, Bryan - I was wondering what the heck the machine they'd mentioned was, but forgot to Google it!
Classes! Real classes - up to 40 people, tables, chairs, multiple glasses laid before you for tasting multiple wines, presentations! I'm totally geeked about this place! Stopped by and asked a jillion questions tonight, and brought home a Poire for kicks and giggles.
This is very good news for Durham. When Craig ran the wine department at Fowler's it was outstanding for value, quality, and knowledgeable help. I can't wait to see what awaits us at Wine Authorities. The fact that it's next door to Thai Cafe is an added bonus.
repost from another thread:
I was a big fan of The Wine Merchant in Raleigh in the 70s (all the way to present day), a big fan of Fowlers in the 80s & 90s, I've been particularly a big fan of Jay Murray and A Southern Season's Wine department since he got there (prices dropped and quality went up).
I can't abide Total Wine, and find all the other wine stores in this area mediocre, at best.
I drove over to Wine Authorities today knowing in my bones that it just was going to be a disappointment. So first I have to apologize to Messers Gross & Heffley there, because I was wrong.
In fact, I hope they can make it, because their store is everything a wine store should be, and therefore it is likely to be unappreciated by the vast unwashed.
They have a lovely wine selection, at good prices, and not just while they're on sale for the grand opening.
There is no "california chardonnay section", no section for bordeaux, burgandy, no "italian reds" section, in fact, no sections at all. Apparently they are buying wines they like that are ready to drink that come at a reasonable cost. Color me shocked at this down to earth practical approach. Combine this with long term accessibility to the wholesale market (these guys have been around the block), and very in-ter-est-ing palates, and we have a winna', folks.
There is one of almost everything, and everything I stopped and examined closely looked to be an excellent representative of that kind of wine. They have organic wine, biodynamic wine, traditional wine, new wine, wine from France & Germany & South Africa and Australia and ye gods and little fishes, they have a wine from Tasmania.
Furthermore, they aren't in the position of having to compete with why I frequent Southern Season or Wine Merchant, they're adding to my local options in a very nice way, so hopefully other folks will feel the same.
I went a little crazy buying some wine, I confess. It's several hours later and I'm still thrilled, so I decided to come and let ya'll know.
Went there the other day to pick up a gift certificate. Unfortunately, I didn't have too much time to hang out, but I'll be back. One of the owners - Craig - was very nice and offered to let me try the Enomatic - a funky wine-tasting device, where you scan your prepaid card and try anywhere from 1 oz to 5 oz (I think) of a particular wine. You have to see this thing - it's too hard to describe - like a coke machine for wine, only cooler. You get a real glass - always a thrill - and there is a place to sit and hang out if you like. If you're into wine, and you live in Durham, there's no excuse for not checking this place out. If you live farther afield, find some excuse to head over here. It's right across the street from Nana's and next door to the Thai Cafe, so maybe you can check them out before dinner.
I went back for the first time since the Enomatic was installed on Friday evening and had a great experience. Got to try several interesting wines, received some great advice on a food/wine pairing question I had for a Saturday dinner (an Italian merlot to accompany Tuscan grilled Porterhouse steaks) and picked up a killer mixed case. What a great addition for Durham food & wine enthusiasts!
I'm signed up for the (non-novice) Nov 15 (Rioja) and Dec 20 (Central Italy) classes - if anyone wants to say hi!