Wine drinkers have all been there, standing before a pricey bottle they’ve never had before and hoping that if they buy it, they will actually like it.
Even a taste — one sip — would help.
The Vino Market, at 3730 Winterfield Road in the Winterfield Place shopping center, reopened last month with 48 wine taps that allow patrons to sample wines from all over the world, from California whites to Italian, French and Spanish reds.
Owner Hunter Boxley closed his shop of 10 years on Dec. 31, 2019, to give the place a face-lift, which included installation of the tap system that offers wine samples in 1-, 3- and 5-ounce pours. The samples are priced based on the bottle prices, with many tastings starting at 75 cents or $1.25, for example, and going up to $10 or $15 for a glass of the more expensive bottles.
Boxley said he saw the tap system years ago and had been seriously thinking about it for the past five years. Patrons use the taps by inserting a card into the machines; the cards can be prepaid with an amount, or folks can start a tab for that particular visit. Boxley said he’ll rotate the wines periodically based on his customers’ needs and new wines that pique his interest.
“You might not buy that $300 bottle for yourself ever, but for $15, you can taste it,” he said, adding that the tap system allows him to take customers “out of their wheelhouse” by introducing them to wines that they might not otherwise try.
The taps were part of the renovations; Boxley also removed some of the rows of wine in the shop to open up the space and bring in new flooring and tables next to the taps for those who come for lunch or the popular Friday wine tastings from 4 to 6 p.m.
The Vino Market’s lunch menu includes a variety of salads and sandwiches. The colorful chopped salad features house-made yellowfin tuna salad with mixed greens and a medley of fresh vegetables, crostini and avocado, and house-made lemon vinaigrette. Rick’s Italian, the most popular sandwich, is named for Rick McVeigh, a former Long Island, N.Y., deli owner and Boxley’s “right-hand man” since the market opened. The shop also sells freshly cut steaks and fresh seafood, such as Gulf shrimp, yellowfin tuna and salmon, at market prices.
Boxley said the market’s proximity to restaurants in the same shopping center works well. On busy weekends, when there might be a wait at those establishments, patrons can stop at the market for a glass of wine or nibble from a charcuterie board before heading off to dinner.
Bob Coby lives in a nearby neighborhood — “as the crow flies, 50 yards and I’m here,” he said last month as he ate lunch in the newly renovated dining space. He said The Vino Market has become a destination for him and his neighbors, particularly on Friday nights for the free wine tastings (those are separate from the tap tastings).
“The redesign is fantastic,” Coby said, particularly the taps. “You can taste whatever you want [and] it’s easy. I just help myself.”
He described himself as a drinker, though “my wife is a taster ... so she gets tastes of everything.”
As he spoke, Coby happened to be eating a Rick’s Italian Sub. As a fellow former Long Islander, he quipped: “It’s as good as I’ve ever had.”