Once you’ve bellied up to the cozy tasting room’s bar like an urbane, sophisticated cowboy, you’ll be treated to a few flavorful wafts and quaffs of Montaluce's finest 2008 and 2009 red and white wines, fermented from the carefully maintained fruits of its 35-acre vineyard. The 2008 chardonnay massages the nose with aromas of green apples, pear, and lemon zest mixed with smoke, walnut, and honeysuckle. And the 2008 risata (Italian for laughter) will put your palate into hysterics with notes of cherries, raspberries, cranberry, savory herbs, and just the faintest hint of Joker venom. Otherwise, go snorkeling for the dark chocolate notes buried in the oaky, deep violet, kraken-filled deeps of the cabernet sauvignon. Much like wine itself, your experience at Montaluce will be different depending on the exact point in time you partake of it. Gracious guests who arrive for their wine flight Tuesday through Saturday will be treated to a complimentary guided winery tour at 2 p.m. Likewise, Sunday sippers can tune their taste buds to live musical performances on the veranda from noon to 5 p.m.
Copperhead Mountain Distillery's owner can trace his bloodlines back to Germany, Italy, and Ireland, which he describes as three of the greatest drinking cultures in the world. He, too, celebrates the joys of alcohol with a purely American beverage: moonshine. Using small, all-copper stills, he produces whiskey, spiced rum, and moonshine a mere quart at a time. Pretty much every bottle he sticks a cork in has a unique character that can't quite be duplicated. When guests show up at his distillery, he pairs tastings of his unique beverages with a side of history, telling tales of the Moonshine era and South Carolina's infamously conflicted relationship with the beverage.
The wine pours freely and the beer bubbles over frosty pint glasses at Grape and Grains, a family-operated homebrew and wine retailer that couples an appreciation for fine craftsmanship with a DIY approach. Owners Kenny and Janel Anderson—enthusiastic experts in hops and wine, respectively—have combined their passions into an enterprise that is one part supply shop and one part educational hub. As Janel presides over the wine bar and teaches classes in wine making, Kenny leads excursions into the complex world of home brewing, showing off the various hop varieties of IPAs and the tears of ousted MPs that give English ales their signature bitterness. The couple share their zeal for spirits with all comers at least 21 years of age, granting members of Grape and Grains' beer and wine club a 10% discount and military vets a 20% discount on products and classes.
The president of Northampton Wines, Richard deBondt, lends his perceptive palate and vast vino-centric knowledge to Italy Exposed, a one-hour educational exploration of the world's second most refined beverage after Tang. Learn proper tasting technique and pairing methods while sampling seven premium Italian wines, accompanied by a selection of Italian cheeses and fresh-baked bread from the Wine Café. Between sips, discover the basics of Italian wine-law and learn to read an Italian label, so you don't get fooled into buying a $500 bottle of moustache oil. Insatiable imbibers can also take advantage of a special 20% discount on all in-stock Northampton Wines merchandise.
Thursday nights from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., West End hosts its weekly wine tasting, encouraging oenophilic exploration amid the shop’s mahogany-shelved, bottle-lined walls. Palates pining for fermented flavors revel in four pours of generally smaller international labels from Australia, South America, and Middle Earth. Pairs brush up libation knowledge with info sheets for each wine while enjoying bite-size hors d’oeuvres served throughout the three-hour affair. Most couples tend to schmooze for an hour and a half, testing the quartet of flavors on tap and enjoying lively discussions about a varietal's vanilla notes and black-currant arpeggios.
Modeled after an Old World wine cellar, WineStyles's shelves are lined with rare bottles accrued by its staff of in-house experts hailing from quality vineyards across the globe. The shop's bounty includes handcrafted gift boxes and baskets and merchandise, such as guidebooks for translating secret codes etched in cork. If a specific bottle is missing from the selection, the quaff gurus place an order that often arrives within 24 hours. Along with retailing wine and imbibing gear, WineStyles's crew grants guests the opportunity to sample new pours at frequent events and two-hour tastings three nights a week. For dedicated aficionados, the chief wine taster chooses two bottles to send to wine-club members along with tasting notes that detail their origins, a winery description, and suggested food pairings.