Back in March I wrote about the importance of local wine shops, community resources just as important as your library or local farmer. Therein I sang the praises of my local heros, Seth Gross and Craig Heffley, proprietors of Wine Authorities in Durham, NC, and their then-recent ink in Food & Wine magazine.
My latest Wine Authorities favorite is an unusual German Pinot Noir Spätlese from Weingut Schäfer in Mettelheim (US$18.99).
Yes. Red. German. A German Rhinehessen red. An overripe red. No kidding.
Their notes, accessible on their website as well as within your “cellar” (your password-accessible purchase history), mentioned pairing it with a spicy Thai meat dish so I opened it with the rip-your-head-off spicy Nam Tok Beef at the Thai Café restaurant next door. The lightness and slight cherry sweetness rose about the spice flavors and was a perfect match with the dish. I would have never, ever, thought of putting together such a choice, much less have know that such a wine actually exists.
This is just one of a dozen unique experiences I have had with this local treasure over the last year.
Their mission, articulated here, is to offer “no more than 500 selections, specializing in estate grown wines from small, up-and-coming, family- owned wineries from around the world,” [f]ocus on bringing user-friendly technology to the world of wine, and fun creativity to displays and merchandising,” “[f]ocus on teaching wine education to people of all levels of knowledge; from the first-time novice to seasoned professionals in the wine business,” “foster partnerships with like-minded independent businesses and strive to spend our dollars with local vendors and local businesses,” and “embrac[e] both male and female shoppers by creating a comfortable, bright, well-displayed, clean and easy to shop environment. We welcome good children and provide a safe play area for them to enjoy.”
Yes, you can fire up your Enomatic smart card to dispense 1, 2.5, or 5 oz samples of 8 reds and 4 whites, plop down on the couch or sit at the Cellar Door bar, all while the little wine-drinkers-to-be can play with games and a Lego table.
And, hey are you a grad student looking for libations for a classy get-together? How ’bout the Wine Authorities’ “6 for $60 special”?
One other point is that you needn’t be in Durham, NC, to enjoy the choice and often exclusive offerings from Wine Authorities. The gents will FedEx (to the 43 states that allow it) whatever you need without any mark-up over the actual shipping price – now that it’s getting cooler, you can now get away with less expensive shipping options as well.
The Wine Authorities boys have truly become a fixture in our community and have been friends of science bloggers from the early days – within two months of opening, they were already hosting Durham blogger meetups.
Most recently, Seth put together a terrific case of summer rosé from around the world that I brought to NYC for our annual Seed/ScienceBlogs.com meetup. It really celebrated the style and demonstrated to my Sb colleagues just how serious this summer drinking wine can be. And as we plan ScienceOnline’09, we are talking with Seth and Craig about the logistics of leading a live Friday Fermentable education session from the shop in January.
While I was sorry to miss their birthday party this past Wednesday, 10 September, it sounds as though I was the only one who did. From this week’s Wine Authoritah’s newsletter entitled, “What do you do if you throw a party and everyone comes?”:
10:30 AM September 10th (day of the party)
Seth: “Hey Craig, how many people do you think will come tonight?”
Craig: “I don’t know. Maybe 100 to 150?”
Seth: “Sounds about right. I wonder if the rain will keep folks home? I’ll chill eight bottles of each sparkling wine to be ready”
Craig: “Let’s hope the rain stops in time. Eight of each should be good.”
4:30 PM September 10th (party starts in 30 minutes)
Seth: “Well the rain has nearly stopped and people are already starting to show up.”
Craig: “They are a bit early, but it’s only from 5 to 7 PM. How crazy could it get?”
Seth: “Yep, you’re right. We don’t need to worry.”
[Associated photos can be found in the newsletter]
Alessandra with her Duchessa cheese on the panini press, ran out of bread, sold all her cheese.
Craig smiling as the store is bulging with customers! He never runs out of smiles.
Only Burger sells out of burgers on their maiden voyage! (just enough for everyone!)
Cotton making balloon animals and painting the kids (faces & hands)
Seth scrambling to find more bottles of cold bubbly. We opened almost four cases in two hours.
9:30 PM September 10th (after the party, sitting at the counter with soaking wet shirts)
Seth: “Holy s%^#”
Craig: “I can’t feel my legs”
Seth: “How many people do you think came?”
Craig: “Going by the number of empty wine bottles and glasses washed, maybe 500 to 600!”
Seth: “I think I heard someone say we backed up traffic on 40 West bound.”
Craig: “Holy s%^#”
So, what do you do if you throw a party and everyone comes? Try to keep your cool and act like you planned it. Thank you to everyone who came out and for the amazing customers who are so patient, caring and supporting of all that we do. You all rock!
No way. It is you guys who rock.
After all, you get what you give.