Have you ever walked into a wine shop and have no idea what you're looking at? My first experience at a local boutique wine was pretty sad.

I walked in looking for one very specific bottle of wine I used to buy at Whole Foods.

After 5 minutes of staring at labels I'd never seen before someone asked if I needed help. I asked for this bottle of organic red wine and was promptly told they did not carry any large brands. Having no idea what to do with this statement, I said thank you and left without buying anything.

A while later I met the owner and he invited me to the shop to taste some wines, I let him know that I was a bit overwhelmed by his shop and had no idea what any of the wines were. His response was “That's why you need to come in and taste them!” Fair point... I showed up at his shop a week later and an entire wine world was opened to me.

This is exactly what we try to offer at Taste Food and Wine. We carry small production boutique style wines and you won't find those familiar grocery store wine labels on our shelves. This isn't to make your life difficult, it's actually to introduce you to amazing wines produced by small wineries at incredible prices. Every single wine that is on our shelves has been tasted by us first to make sure it meets our standards of quality and value.

That introduction comes in the form of wine tastings just like that other small shop I went to. Monday and Friday evenings from 5-8pm every week offers you the opportunity to try 5 different wines for free and discuss what you are tasting with either our in house wine expert and owner, Phoebe Snowe or one of our distributors.

We approach wine a bit differently at Taste. We never want anyone to feel overwhelmed, unsure, or confused about wine. Wine is a pleasure and should be enjoyed as such so we approach it with a casual fun attitude. And we believe that good wine should not be cost prohibitive. Most of the wine in our store is from $10 to $20.This comes across best in our monthly wine classes offered on the first Tuesday of the month.

Every month is a different topic – old world vs new world, white wine vocabulary, wine and cheese pairing, sparkling wines from around the world, etc. Phoebe will pour 8 different wines while discussing them with a small group, helping you to develop your own understanding of wine.The class ends with a crowd pleasing blind

tasting. Phoebe pulls a 'mystery' wine and every single person who guesses the type of wine correctly goes home with a lovely bottle of wine Phoebe generously offers from her private collection.For those of you who want to really challenge your wine palate and experience we offer a Wine of the Month club. We carefully select two wines for our club members. These are wines

you've never seen in the store before and are much more interesting and intriguing than your typical California Chardonnay or Cabernet (not that we don't love those wines as well!).Then there's the beer. All the good local craft beer. We

offer free craft beer tastings every Saturday from 3-6pm with a different brewery each week. Recently we've featured Sketchbook, Great Lakes, Wild Onion, 3 Floyds, and always have an event schedule posted on our Facebook page for upcoming brewery pourings.Rounding out all the wine and beer, spirits have a home in this store as well as at the tasting table. We

offer a quarterly spirits tasting of our favorite bourbons, gins, vodkas, rums, and more.Basically if you like to taste and drink alcohol, you'll like Taste Food and Wine. Our goal is to make sure everyone who walks in these doors never has that same sad experience that I had at a little local wine shop. But if

you do walk in and feel lost, please, please, please ask us for help! There are no wine snobs working at this store – we just want to make sure you find a wine (or beer or spirit) that you love.

By Brandy Mertes

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