Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Year's Resolution: Wine and 2012

For my New Year’s wine resolution 2012 (yes, I’m well aware an entire month of 2012 has already sped past but…be patient with me), I am attempting to visit more Wyoming and Black Hills wine businesses in order to promote the growing wine industry in my big, but sparsely populated, state.  In order to do this, I will be putting many miles on my new car, but it’s all worth it in the name of wine!  My caveat (and bias?) is that I am making these stops to promote wine in the name of increasing wine appreciation.  I am telling you right now there will be no secret ambush on any business with a seething review because this “critic” wasn’t happy!  I want to make people more aware of the great companies in our area that are making opportunities to get great wines even easier, often in the middle of nowhere.  Sometimes it’s hard work to get wine to half a million people spread across almost 100,000 square miles, but I am going to help any little bit I can!

To start my New Year, I traveled to the center of big, wonderful Wyoming for my first official Sweet Sommelier stop at Popular Wine and Spirits in Casper.  From the first step inside the store, I liked it!  The large, open floor plan made it so easy to see the wine.  The wine was organized by country, then varietal, then price-point.  This was a unique idea, and I can see where it would make wine buying for certain situations easier.  If I want a $25.00 bottle of California Cabernet, I know right where to start looking.  Poplar Wine and Spirits also gets kudos for having a diverse selection of American wine; many international wines, both Old World and New World; and the first Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) I’ve seen in Wyoming!  TBAs are unique and rare wines that the grapes must ripen on the vines for a very long time to reach a certain level of sugar content; it is a rarity for vineyards and wineries to have these harvests very often.  Of course, I had to buy a bottle.  Because this is a rare wine, it is much pricier than other sweet, dessert wines sold in the half-bottle size, so I’m saving this special treat for Valentine’s Day.   Once I bought this wine and a bottle of twenty-year aged Port, I decided I might as well go for a “six pack” of wine!  (Man, my job is rough sometimes, isn’t it?)

As we were checking out, I introduced myself to the owner, Michael.  He was so gracious and friendly, telling my husband and I about the new building where the store and its connected wine bar, Vintage Wine and Martini Bar, are located.  Michael then took us into the wine bar, which was yet to open for business.  (Don’t judge how early I got to the liquor store, please.)  The ambiance was so warm and inviting in Vintage; it looked to be a wonderful place for people my age (clear throat, mumble, mumble, forty-ish, mumble, mumble) to go and actually visit with others in a non-smoking environment, which is not yet law in Wyoming.  The wine menu rotates fifty wines by the glass throughout the year; it boasts up to fifteen appetizers, made on site, also rotating seasonally.  I was unable to stay until Vintage opened the day I stopped, but I will be going back soon when I can experience the full effect of the wine bar. 

So, great job Michael and staff at Poplar Wine and Spirits!  You are creating a great wine culture in my home state!  Keep up the good work.  And I promise to keep traveling to find wine spots for wine lovers to stop!