If you live in Colorado you can’t ignore the stacks and racks of wine now dotting the floor at your local grocery store. On March 1st of this year, grocery stores in our state gained the right to sell wine alongside loaves of bread and cartons of eggs. There are countless opinions out there about whether or not this was the right move for the state. Now that the ink has dried, there’s little point in debating whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing for Colorado. Instead, let’s explore the difference between shopping for wine in grocery stores and buying it in your neighborhood wine shop.
The American public has proven through clear spending patterns that we value experiences. We want to be immersed in things that bring us joy and give us new insights into the world. That said, we also love convenience. We like one-stop shopping and having everything our hearts desire at our fingertips.
As consumers, we know there’s a trade-off when it comes to prioritizing convenience. Many of us visit our neighborhood Walmart or Target store to purchase certain commodity items. While we’re there, we may even spend a few minutes perusing the clothing racks. While we may be able to get a good deal, we know that the items are generic, mass-produced, and have little or no story behind them, let alone soul. We also know that there’s a good chance that every time we wear one of these items, we’re likely to bump into someone else wearing the same thing. What we don’t know is how the material is manufactured, how the people working in the factories are treated, or what shortcuts were taken to make the prices so affordable.
We visit local boutique shops when we want something special, high-quality, and unique. We get to know the shopkeepers and they get to know us. They listen to us talk about the event we’re dressing for and they pull things off the rack we might never have reached for on our own.
This type of experience has value. It helps us maintain our human connections and we feel good about supporting our neighbors. We hear about the lady who hand-dyes every garment or the non-profit organization that benefits from a portion of the proceeds. We take those stories to our community and connect with others through the experience.
When you walk into one of the great boutique wine shops in Denver, that’s exactly what happens. The person working is there because they love this stuff. They’re there because
they have a story to tell you and because they know that you deserve the experience of great wine. They’re there to be the expert so you don’t have to be. When you build a relationship with your neighborhood wine shop, they open up a gateway and invite you to begin or continue a journey that, if you’re open to it, will stay with you forever.
In Colorado, we’re blessed to have access to a more eclectic mix of wine than most states. Mainly because, until recently, we didn’t have wine in grocery. Our laws were set up in a way that only allowed one liquor license per individual or entity. As such, we received access to small-production wines from producers that knew they could never meet the volume demanded by large-scale chains. We got the ‘cool kid’ stuff and thankfully, we still do. For now, anyway. You just have to be willing to take an extra few minutes out of your day and look at the experience of shopping for wine as an opportunity to explore and expand, rather than another task like picking up milk for the week ahead.
These Denver wine shops are nestled in some of our favorite neighborhoods to live, work, and play. They all have a different vibe and a different selection. What they have in common, is a willingness to show you the path to a lifestyle enhanced by outstanding wine.
When you visit, ask for help and engage with the people inside. If you love The Prisoner, say so. Be honest but try to be open to something new. Tell them what you want to spend, where you’re going, or what you’re having for dinner. A tiny breadcrumb can lead to total greatness.
Cleto Chiarli e Figli 2022 Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco Vecchia Modena | Of all the categories, I feel like bubbly is the one where people revert to their comfort zone. It’s tempting to snatch up that $15 bottle of Prosecco, top it with way more orange juice than you’d ever consume otherwise, and giggle the afternoon away with friends. But, for just a few dollars more, you can experience a wine that needs no camouflage. If the word Lambrusco has you thinking of a super sweet, dark red wine, think again. This pretty pink rosé is dry and bright with notes of strawberry and a little spice. It’ll be love at first sip.
Rodica 2019 Malvazija Selekcija | I told you we were stepping outside the comfort zone, right? This beautiful bottling from Slovenia is anything but ordinary. It’s certified organic and made using a process that allows the grapes to sit in contact with the skins. The result is an orange wine that’s deliciously versatile. It’s got some of the musky characteristics that orange wines are known for, but it’s still fresh and packed with fruit flavors and good acidity, making it a wine you can serve alongside summer cheese boards featuring fresh burrata or pork ribs hot off the grill.
Free Wine Tastings at Proof: Fridays 4:30 – 7:00 pm
Divino Wine & Spirits – 1240 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80210
Mas Que Vinos 2020 ‘Los Conejos Malditos’ Tempranillo Carbonico | I first discovered this wine a couple of years ago when some “bad bunnies” decided to feast on my vegetable garden. Named for equally naughty bunnies that roam the vineyards of the Toledo region of central Spain, the organic wine’s label is as playful as its contents and pairs beautifully with hot summer afternoons bent over in the garden. Serve it chilled and embrace the dark fruit flavors this summer.
Martha Stoumen 2022 ‘Out to the Meadow’ White | A blend of Chenin Blanc, Vermentino, Trousseau Gris, Green Hungarian, and Chasselas Doré grapes from Suisun Valley in Solano County, California east of Napa Valley. If you’ve never heard of these varieties, then my point is made. With just 171 cases made, this is a wine that actually pairs with veggies and transcends seasons. It’s full-bodied with notes of honey and flowers. Delicious.
Moccagatta 2021 Dolcetto d’Alba | Made of premium grapes from the iconic district of Barbaresco in northwestern Italy, this is a red wine that’s affordable enough to enjoy weekly but distinct enough to pair with a celebratory dinner menu or to crack on for that special date you’ve been wanting to impress.
Free Wine Tastings at Mondo Vino: Fridays and Saturdays 4:00 – 6:00 pm