Vino 100’s experts selectively pluck wines from wine trees around the world and offer their bounty to discerning oenophiles for $25 a bottle or less. This Groupon is only good at the Loft Bar, which offers all of the bottles at Vino 100 (plus a $5 opening fee), as well as a rotating menu of wine flights and glasses. Scour the thoroughly vetted selection of 100 bottles for that palate-bending pinot with subtle notes of square watermelon using Vino 100’s innovative Wine Barometer. Affixed to each bottle, the Wine Barometer shows two scales, rating body from light to full and flavor from fruity to dry. Labels also include essential information about vineyard and vintage. If you take your wine with Cheetos, the Wine Barometer will advise whether your cabernet will better accompany the Original or Flamin’ Hot variety.
Typically, when wine lovers try to find a new wine bar, they look for a cozy hole-in-the wall filled with gauzy curtains and illuminated by candles. When they're looking for the Battery Park Wine Bar, though, they just have to glance up at the towering smokestack studded with enormous red letters. Owner Mike Graley wanted to create a wine bar that would appeal to a beer drinker, according to an article in Cleveland Magazine, that also complemented the venue's "hip vibe and smart wine list of familiar favorites." Bartenders and servers regale guests with descriptions of their more than 100 wines available by the bottle and rotating selection of more than 25 wines by the glass. The kitchen crafts small plates designed to complement the fermented flavors with braised octopus and spinach salads, flatbreads spread with pumpkin-seed pesto, and thoughtfully composed charcuterie boards.
The rehabilitated space creates a modern industrial aesthetic by merging the old and the new. Exposed brick, high ceilings, and a massive garage door allude to the building's past, and geometric light fixtures hang between the gleaming ductwork above high-top tables. Guests can enjoy a drink at the polished wooden bar, stop in to pick up an impressive bottle before a house party, or reenact lessons from Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land at the pool table.
Craig and Laura Decker seem to have a difficult time making up their minds. They also seem to have a knack for turning this indecisiveness into an advantage at every turn. When it came to opening their new business, for example, they briefly wondered whether it should feature a wine shop, a wine bar, or a gourmet bistro. Their solution? All three.
This spirit of inclusivity pervades The W.G. Kitchen & Bar, where the Deckers pair seasonal wine varietals with globally inspired cuisine. Rather than choose between European elegance and New-American pizzazz, they settled on a compromise they describe as “Old World chic.” This label suits a menu that features small plates of housemade meatballs and bruschetta alongside assorted cheeses from around the world. The focus on small plates is in keeping with the Deckers’ have-it-all mentality and gives diners the option to sample several dishes without having to barter with adjacent tables.
Some partnerships—Fred and Ginger, Holmes and Watson, Rocky and Bullwinkle—seem predestined for greatness. Such was the case with Jeff and Jill Van Horne. Jeff, a wine collector, married his talents with Jill's gourmet cooking to create The Wine Loft, where their chemistry translates into delicious food and drink pairings. Stepping inside is akin to joining one of their dinner parties, with fellow guests lounging on sofas throughout the space and ordering cocktails or beer from the full bar.
Of course, the starring libation is wine. The cellar below the restaurant can store close to 2,000 bottles at a steady 58 degrees. More than 200 wines arrive at tables by the bottle, and 75 can be poured by the glass, complementing a variety of small plates and entrees. If you aren't sure what libation would best bring out the flavor of your lamb lollipops, servers gladly assist—or, you could attend one of The Wine Loft's wine education classes. These meet monthly to cover topics such as matching wine with chocolate or observing proper wine etiquette, which dictates that whomever uncorks the bottle must plant the cork and raise the resultant tree.
The family of vintners at The Grape and Granary have concocted vinos for years, and their ancillary enthusiasms for beer brewing and other DIY drinks have led to some one-of-a-kind grape distillates. The Grape and Granary’s specialty Jalapeno Pepper wine ($12.95) saunters across the palate's runway and leaves behind sweet and spicy smoke trails. This particular semi-dry white—sold only in Ohio by buckeye-flavored salesmen—pairs well with piquant cuisines and tabasco-flavored frozen yogurt. A jalapeño pepper luxuriates in every bottle. The Grape and Granary also culls dry wines from grapes born, raised, and mostly educated in California’s Central Valley such as the dry red 2009 Renaissance Wine Cellars merlot ($12.99), which boasts a light body with dry, fruity tones in hot pursuit.
Meza owners Tatjana and Jason Brown populate their shelves with more than 200 hand-selected domestic and imported wines, hosting casual wine-tasting events that cast the spotlight on five wines and light Italian tapas from Cardone's Restaurant. Ushering in libations from regions such as Napa, Sonoma, and Columbia Valley and international grape extracts from countries including Argentina, Italy, Germany, Austria, Croatia, and Australia, Friday-night wine tastings showcase an ever-changing cast of deliciously bottled characters. The Spanish Tasting—Hot New Wines event sends taste buds feet-first into zesty, citrusy whites such as verdejo and viura, and smoky reds from Rioja. Prime mouths for summer with Patio Pounders from the United States and stimulate palates and optical organs with the Amazing Aussie Wines with Cool Labels night, showcasing the rich varietals from Some Young Punks, which punch palates with labels such as The Squid's Fist and Passion Has Red Lips.