Watch out Richmonders, a vino invasion is in full effect. These days, with wine bars popping up all over town, sampling wines for your next get together is an experience in itself. Here's some of our local harvest, bound to elevate your wine-shopping just a bit.
The Feels-Fancy Spot
Magnolia's Wine Bar & Bistro, 7021 Three Chopt Road, 673-9463, magnoliaswinebar.com
Vibe: Chic dinner destination for date night
Choices Galore : 75 wines by the half- or full-glass, a thermostatically controlled, 48-bottle wine preservation and optimization system
Owner Steve Dopp's fave: Kaiken Ultra 2006 Mendoza Argentina, $23. "Shows a deep ruby red color with an equally elegant aroma and a velvety smooth body of red berries, black cherry, finishing with hints of soft tobacco, vanilla and light tannins."
The Casual, Cozy Place
Café Caturra, 5811 Grove Ave., 285-0690; 1282 Alverser Plaza, 897-4773; 13830 Village Place, 378-4955; cafecaturra.com
Vibe: Order at the counter salads, paninis, coffee and wine
No-hassle decision-making: 24 wines by the bottle or the glass from an environmentally regulated wine-keeper system that your cashier can recommend as you place your order.
Midlothian Village manager Bob Clark's fave: Beaujolais, $7 per glass and $25 per bottle, "It's light, refreshing and fruit-flavored. To me, it's a great patio wine."
The Gal-Pal Spot
Barrel Thief, 5805 Patterson Ave., 612-9232; 11747 W. Broad St., 364-0144; barrelthiefwine.com
Vibe: Modern wine shop with seating overlooking the racks; salad, panini and seafood entrees.
No guessing: 12 by-the-glass options rotate seasonally
Owner Ross Mattis's fave: 2008 Yves Cuilleron Syrah Rose Rhone Valley, France, $18. "Spring is the official start of rose season. This one's great to save for Thanksgiving as the top producers sell out by summer's end."
The Local Legend
Bin 22 at Betsy's, 3200 W. Cary St., 358-4501, bin22carytown.com
Vibe: This granddaddy of Richmond's wine bars was first on the scene to offer wine with light meals.
Well-stocked options: 15 by the glass, 70 by the bottle
Owner Graig Pullen's fave: Owen Roe 2007 Abbot's Table red blend, $25, from the Yakima Valley in Washington State. "The wine is a blend of 10 different varietals, and achieves a full body with bright red, and black fruits."
The Grocery Shop Stop
Whole Foods, 11173 W. Broad St., 364-4050, wholefoodsmarket.com
Vibe: Take a break from the market and sample wines at the café.
Sample Sips: 24 wines on tap from the store's Enotecca machine.
Director Daniel Yacher's fave: Gatao Vinho Verde, $8. "It's from Portugal. It's a nice, light, and crisp wine. It's lemony."
The Place Everyone's Waiting For
Secco (opening sometime in 2009), 2931 W. Cary St., 355-1375, rivercitycellars.com
Vibe: River City Cellars will expand to include a wine bar with a full kitchen serving Mediterranean food and cheese.
The goal: 25 wines offered by the glass
Owner Julia Battaglini's fave: Nessa 2008 Albarino (Spain), $15. "Classic white peach notes on the nose with a zesty, lively acidity in the mouth and minerality on the finish. A vibrant, stainless steel fermented wine that pairs beautifully with everything from fried calamari to grilled chicken."
The New New Place
La Cave, 2925 W. Cary St., 355-3131
Vibe: Jet-Set boutique's old digs transformed into a long bar and snug booth seating and a simple menu of soups, sandwiches and dinner fare
Finding their footing: At press time they were still working out the kinks with their Enotecca machine, but plans included starting with five or six by-the-glass options and expanding as they go.
Owner Carole Giraudeau's fave: Chateau Tariquet, $6 per glass, "It's a really refreshing rosé for spring and summer. It's not heavy but it's not too dry."