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    Commonwealth Tap… for gathering with friends and family.
    9411 Norton Commons Blvd.

    Part bar, part retail store, this Norton Commons spot has 30 wines and 12 beers on tap and offers more than 80 bourbons. If you pick up something for a dinner party or holiday get-together you’re attending, owner Kenny Andreozzi says you shouldn’t expect the host to open the present. For a dinner with lots of food on the table, Andreozzi recommends Chardonnay for white and Pinot Noir for red, both of which are more accessible.

    Westport Whiskey and Wine… for something to drink tonight.
    1115 Herr Lane, Suite 101

    This Westport Village shop has a rack of wines that cost less than $25 and that Wine Spectator has scored 90 (out of 100) points or higher. The smorgasbord includes all varietals and regions — French, Spanish, California, Washington; Côtes du Rhônes, Rieslings, Bordeaux. The rack rotates regularly. “It’s a good way to get people to branch out of their comfort zone,” manager Seth Williams says.

    Wine Rack for… sustainable, biodynamic, organic, local wines.
    2632 Frankfort Ave.

    The store labels wines produced in an organic, biodynamic or sustainable way. “Long term, the quality of the grapes comes from healthy vines not being exposed to pesticides, herbicides and fungicides,” owner and sommelier John H. Johnson says. A corner of the store holds local wines, of which Johnson recommends Smith-Berry’s Burly, a red blend of Norton, Munson and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and Wight-Meyer’s Vignoles, a semi-sweet white with apricot and pear flavors.

    Liquor Barn for…a scavenger hunt.
    Several Kentucky locations

    “People think that beer is easy, but that wine is another language. It’s just fermented grapes,” says manager Kevin Keith. Liquor Barn is about demystifying wine and making it more accessible. “We’re pretty geeked about wine,” he says. Though the store offers an intimidating 5,000 to 6,000 different bottles, buyers are highly selective — one brings in hard-to-find wines from places like Greece and Portugal; another searches for the best prices. “We want customers to be able to explore the world of wine without a passport or plane ticket,” Keith says.

    The Wine Market… for snacks and pairings.
    1200 Bardstown Road

    This Old World-focused (France, Italy, Spain) shop has a counter of cheese and house-made spreads, including its most popular: pimento cheese. Not sure what you like to drink? Refer to the chalkboard that categorizes varietals by taste descriptors: red/white; full/light; fruity/minerally; sweet/dry.

    Taste Fine Wines and Bourbons… for conversation.
    634 E. Market St.

    Before committing to a bottle, buy a taste of one of the 10 rotating wines on tap and sit at the bar, where you might find yourself discussing tempranillo or learning what it takes to become a master sommelier (arguably harder than getting into med school). “There are 260,000 different labels, and your palate’s different than mine,” owner Paul Meyer says. “I may like it and you think it’s the worst crap in the world.”

    Schreck’s Baxter Liquors… for a blindfold bargain.
    1535 Baxter Ave.

    The “King of Closeouts” dedicates an aisle to $3.99 wine bottles, including Tavernello Vino Rosso d’Italia, which boasts on its label that it’s No. 1 in Italy according to sales. The majority of the shelf displays spritzers, Moscoti and other sweet types you stopped drinking in college. Take a chance on the sparkling red that looks promising or the Argentine Cabernet that’s a Wine Enthusiast “Best Buy” winner. 

    This article appears in the winter issue of SWIG. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here.

    Mary Chellis Nelson's picture

    About Mary Chellis Nelson

    Mary Chellis Nelson is the managing editor of Louisville Magazine.

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