For three years running—2011, 2012, and 2013—Columbia Metropolitan magazine has declared Gervais & Vine's wine list the city's best. What earned it the distinction is simple: globe-spanning variety. Its menu hosts everything from California's 2011 J. Lohr pinot noir to South Africa's Spice Route “Chakalaka” and Germany's Dr. L Riesling, which completed medical school during its fermentation. All told, more than 40 wines by the glass fill the list, complementing the Mediterranean-inspired tapas of head chef Jason Holowacz.
When crafting his entrees, Holowacz focuses on pairing. Dishes range from the Spanish flavors of grilled shrimp to Italian favorites such as pizza with goat cheese and herb-infused olive oil, allowing guests to experiment with their white or red selections. For pointers, periodic winemaker dinners and wine tastings cover different varietals and their best edible matches. And while guests sip and sup, inside or on the outdoor patio, Gervais & Vine entertains their ears every Wednesday and Thursday night with live jazz.
The faculty of local artists at Wine and Design in West Ashley and Mt. Pleasant helps students create works of art in a social, supportive setting with lessons designed for people with no artistic experience. After uncorking bottles of wine and kegs of paint, budding artists spend two hours imitating pros stroke for stroke as they transform canvases into paintings of colorful landscapes and vibrant still lifes. Guests of any experience level are welcome and Wine and Design provides all necessary materials, including paint, brushes, and corkscrews.
In addition to regular classes, Wine and Design offers private parties and Art Buzz summer camp for kids at both Mt. Pleasant and West Ashley. In an effort to paint it forward (Mt. Pleasant and West Ashley), they also donate funds to causes, such as Relay For Life and the MUSC Children's Hospital.
Dessert refuses to be an afterthought at Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream & Sandwich Cafe. More than 30 ice-cream flavors—repeatedly lauded by the Charleston City Paper and Moultrie News—pile atop cones or blend into milk shakes, and classic banana splits make mouths water with their pecans and cherries. The café’s scoops of amaretto cherry or java chunk are generous, living up to the vision of Rod Lapin, who opened the first Ye Ole Fashioned in 1972 with the idea of making customers’ jaws drop at the size of his portions.
Today, at more than half a dozen locations, including one helmed by his daughter Becki and her husband, that hasn’t changed. Ten strips of bacon layer the café’s signature BLTs; chili-laden, all-beef hot dogs weigh down their buns; and the plates are required to start lifting weights regularly before they’re allowed to carry double-decker sandwiches or burgers.
Boasting a huge, award-winning selection of wines and a sample-friendly WineStation, Wine Awhile provides convenient one-stop shopping for all fermentable needs. Swing by to nosh on delectable small plates, and stock up on palatable brews such as a half-gallon growler of Sierra Nevada Wet Hop ($12) and a six-pack of Victory Hop Devil ($11.99). A knowledgeable staff assists shoppers in picking out delicious varieties like the Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($17.99), Manu Sauvignon Blanc ($14.99), and Wishing Tree Shiraz ($12.99) while dishing out handy tips for pairing them with savory, fresh-baked knock-knock jokes.
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 Red Pepper is an Italian eatery with rich roots. Owner Fred White first learned the ropes of the restaurant business at his grandmother's Italian restaurant in Rochester, New York, mastering the art of crafting sweets and savories from fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, basil, and ricotta cheese. He went on to open lauded eateries across the country, then settled with his family in the Charleston area and opened The Red Pepper in Summerville. Here, locals relish hoagies, pizzas, and other sumptuous New York?style Italian food. Red umbrellas and baskets of flowers dot an outdoor patio, drawing diners into the fresh air for alfresco meals and drinks.
From the Press