In her early 20s, Heather Redman worked in a swanky Omaha eatery, where she served countless bottles of high-end wine. There, she developed a passion about learning about fine wines, amassing a wealth of knowledge that she now shares at Swirl Wine Bar and Shoppe. Heather reduces her carbon footprint maintains freshness by keeping all her reds and whites—as well as select craft beers—on tap. The tap system prevents the wines from being exposed to oxygen, maintaining flavor quality from the first glass to the last. Each beverage can be complemented by a concise selection of shareable bites, including assorted chocolate truffles and house-made pita paired with roasted red pepper hummus.
While Swirl's roomy lounge complete with comfy leather seats and couches invites visitors to stay and relax, the shoppe also caters to patrons on the go. Bottles of wine and craft beer line retail shelves throughout the lounge, and Swirl's wine and beer clubs reward members with monthly packages of hand-selected libations instead of just pictures of hands selecting libations.
One autumn day, 13-year-old Shanita McAfee wandered through her local apple orchard, plucking the ripest, plumpest apples. She had done this for years with her dad and siblings, but this year was different. Instead of giving the apples to her mom for apple pies, Shanita decided to take on the challenge herself. She loved her mom's pies, but didn't understand why her mom would use a store-bought crust if she was going to put in the effort to make everything else from scratch. So, Shanita started experimenting with various homemade-crust recipes, and her passion for cooking was born.
Though Shanita’s repertoire has expanded to include savory dishes, such as New Orleans–style shrimp and pan-seared seafood, her cooking philosophy remains the same: fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared with love. Magnolia’s chef has also made it her mission to challenge people to "experience traditional Southern ingredients and food in a different way." That's why she creates things such as braised oxtail lasagna and Grown Up grilled cheese—toasted farm-to-market challah bread with smoked gouda and Tillamook cheddar served with bacon horseradish dip and a 401K pamphlet.
Each of the wines on the shelf in Cellar Rat has been vetted by the staff—nothing is sold to the public unless the staff would drink it or use it as a substitute for milk in cereal. The resulting more than 800 wines, 70% of which are less than $20, make for tasty everyday and special-occasion beverages, as do the number of premium spirits and handcrafted brews stocked alongside the wine.
Cellar Rat’s vino experts do more than just discern the difference between good and bad wine; they also teach others how to do so during wine classes that delve into the intricacies of tasting. They even make pairing suggestions for the artisan cheeses, gourmet cured meats, and pate also sold in the boutique shop.
Nestled in the Crossroads Arts District, Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen sates sophisticated palates with seasonal, contemporary-American cuisine and an eclectic selection of voluptuous vinos from around the world. Midday grape guzzlers can indulge taste buds with a lunch menu boasting a savory selection of gourmet portobello, pork, and strip-steak sandwiches ($8–$11). For dinner, indulge in a selection of pre-meal cheeses that include drunken goat, port-salut, and jokes told by the waiter's uncle on Christmas ($6/individual, $15/choice of three). Diners can savor the aromatics rising from a piping plate of seared ahi tuna served with wasabi mashed potatoes and tempura asparagus ($26), or sink knives into a grilled pork chop served with a three-veggie succotash and golden-potato hash ($23). A stalwart array of cutlery helps guests plot the epic four-course tasting menu that can be paired with a selection of wines or a tiny pair of wind-up chattering teeth ($38/person).
The brainchild of New York–native Joseph Palladino, Coal Vines Restaurant centers its Italian-inspired menu around thin-crust pizzas crisped inside a coal-fired oven. Chef T.J. Stack applies his years of culinary expertise working at the landmark Savoy Grill to Coal Vine Restaurant’s menu, which pairs its retinue of cheesy pies, pastas, and sandwiches with an extensive assortment of merlots, cabernets, and chardonnays freshly squeezed from the grape’s udder. The omelet and pancake stations erected during Sunday brunch augment the eatery’s Italian offerings with classic midday fare washed down with seasonal mimosas served by flute or carafe. Daily grinders can unwind during weekday Winedowns, which offer select glasses of wine for $5 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.Wine bottles nestle inside Coal Vines Restaurant’s every nook and cranny, flanking floor-to-ceiling doors that give way to a breezy patio stationed between potted plants and black fencing. In the dining room, floors burnished to a shimmering mocha hue reflect the bright red cushioned chairs that surround each table, and at night, candles illuminate the shiny marble bar laden with vino harvested from an on-site wine vault.
Dr. John L. Bean and his wife Marsha couldn’t have named Belvoir Winery any more aptly. Belvoir is French for “beautiful view,” and, with 170 lush, vibrant acres to its name, Belvoir Winery certainly doesn’t disappoint. Once a hub for the historic Odd Fellows, the estate now blooms with the vineyards planted by Dr. Bean more than 15 years ago. Vines ripe with golden muscat, chambourcin, and vingnoles grapes anchor the winery’s six signature vinos, which include the floral semi-dry Plumeria and the Lucky Pierre, a sweet red dessert wine. The winery’s newly renovated interior unfolds across five luxurious event spaces, an ornate tasting bar, and a cozy ice-cream shop that overlook the property’s towering 100-year-old trees and stunning marble gazebo. No stranger to supernatural happenings, Belvoir also hosts monthly investigations of its grounds with the Paranormal Research Investigators, a local troupe of ghost hunters also trained in the art of summoning lost car keys.