by Mel Selcho and Ellie Butterfield
Say “Yes” to the Press
Where to go when it’s wine-thirty in Decatur
DOWNTOWN DECATUR SQUARE transforms into a winery once a year, filling with tables of wine samples from all over the world and people ready to test their taste buds. The Decatur Wine Festival draws enthusiasts for four sweet hours of explora- tion. This year’s event will be Nov. 9 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Inspired by the beloved event, we dug a little deeper into the wine offerings in Decatur year-round.
Decatur was thrilled to get its neighbor- hood Savi Provisions, one of four Atlanta neighborhood shops boasting locally- sourced food and wine. Its reputation for thoughtful selections is known as a welcom- ing environment to experiment and develop personal tastes.
“Our guiding principles are quality and price,” explains owner Paul Nair. “Whether it is an everyday simple wine or a collectible classic, our first focus is always on quality. Then we evaluate the price we can offer our customers. When these match, we acquire the wine.”
This process has built a customer base who Nair says appreciate the entire expe- rience, including the price. Available are standard market leaders as well as unique wines for more adventure. Savi’s highly- trained staff has already sifted through the marketing to objectively evaluate the wine so customers don’t have to.
Savi Provisions also offers classes from Atlanta’s most respected and experienced educators. Its Buckhead location is home to wine dinners, where delicious food is paired with top-tier wines.
Pro tips from Savi Provisions
Best Advice: In the beginning, try as many wines as well as food and wine pairings as possible. Over the course of your life, your preferences will change and evolve. Each point of wine reference will help you enjoy wine even more.
Everyday Wine: There is no day that Champagne doesn’t make a little bit better.
Splurge Wine: I love the elegance and complexity found in the Great Pinot Noirs of Burgundy and Oregon. They are both made in small amounts and reflect their place of origin as well as their individual winemaker’s skills and style. One bottle can offer a fantastic education.
Wahoo! Wine and Provisions
Tucked next to Decatur classic Wahoo! Grill, Ski Peterson brought his life-long res- taurant experience and wine knowledge to open a shop where “pretension never has to be a pretense” when it comes to wine.
Wahoo! Wine and Provisions (WW&P) offers an environment of openness and exploration with wines at every price point, including grocery store. The local vibe of the shop develops relationship with both the community and with wine; it’s a place where guests are on a first name basis with Peterson. They also find gifts, local foods and honey sourced from bees just down the street in Oakhurst.
Peterson recalls a pivotal early experi- ence tasting Champagnes from neighboring vineyards. One had “just enough” better sun exposure and soil composition to taste and pay a difference. “This was my first exposure to the effects of soil and climate matter in the production of wine. I found it fascinat- ing, and it pushed my desire to learn more.”
Since then, Peterson has traveled to vineyards in Oregon, California, Italy, France and South Africa, learning from the winemakers themselves. He brings that knowledge back to WW&P so neighbors can select their weekly wine by talking to someone who can help them rather than being lost in an aisle looking at labels.
Pro tips from WW&P
Best Advice: If you like it, and you paid a price you’re happy with, then that is a good wine.
Everyday Wine: It’s a fun part of my job to find a house wine around $15. I strongly recommend the Meinklang Frizzante Rose at $18.99. It’s the best-selling wine for WW&P since the shop opened. [My wife and business partner] Pam and I love it.
Splurge Wine: A splurge around $50 for me would be R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia. R. Lopez is an old house founded in 1877. They hold the wine until they decide it’s ready to drink.
The Purple Corkscrew
This Avondale Estates wine boutique and eclectic tasting room was started with a passionate love between owner Steffini Bethea and Spain’s classic vino, Tempranillo.
A trip to Spain and leaving her work in pharmaceuticals led Bethea to follow her curiosity and develop a passion for wine and opening The Purple Corkscrew
Predominantly featuring small vineyard wines, Bethea and wine manager Racquel McCreary handpick the selections. Bethea introduced the wine flight bar to Purple Corkscrew to make these independent wines more accessible.
“Each week, we have six to eight wines on our flight menu,” Bethea said. “For $15, each customer gets to taste three different wines. This gives them an opportunity to try a wine before buying. Many customers find their favorite wine this way.”
For those without the time for a tast- ing, the staff are expertly trained to help by meeting customers where they are with their wine knowledge and preferences. Bethea explains it’s important to taste with the customer’s palate in mind. She credits building trust with customers who know “we’re not just bottle pushers.”
Pro tips from The Purple Corkscrew
Best Advice: Your palate is your best teacher, take note. Write down your impres- sions of the basic components of wine, What do you see, smell and taste? Write down what you do like and what you don’t like about the wine.
Everyday Wine: Right now, I’m enjoying light French reds, Gamay to be exact. It is light bodied and perfect for the summer. You can actually put a slight chill on it to enjoy. It has the bright red fruit flavors of strawberries and red raspberries.
Sitting in the heart of Oakhurst and boast- ing one of the most popular outdoor patios, Scout brings sustainable, organic wines to the table alongside its tasty seasonal dishes.
A mix of comfort and adventure drive the restaurant’s wine selection, which mimics the closeness of the surrounding commu- nity and the supplying vineyards. With confidence in quality, flavor and feel-good roots, Scout customers can trust a bottle of pinot noir or chardonnay. Exploratory enthusiasts have options such as Vermen- tino from the Languedoc or Carmenere from Chile.
By-the-glass orders are a key part of “gaining knowledge without training” according to managing partner Chris Mar- tha. Diners can try new wines in a relaxed and comfortable setting, making wine dis- covery “fun and not so formal.”
Scout employees enhance the experience, passing along their own evolving education and training. Staff frequently taste new wines and hear from guest suppliers so they can “deliver the romance of wine.”
Scout’s seasonal tastings offer another way to explore. Guests looking to expand their knowledge can taste 15 wines for $20.
Pro tips from Scout
Best Advice: Take pictures of the wines you like and keep track of the varietals and what wine region they are from. This will help someone at a retail shop or restaurant steer you towards something of a similar profile.
Everyday Wine: I can’t go wrong with a glass of the Castel de Maures Provence Rose on a hot day. The Broadside Paso Robles Cabernet is a fantastic everyday red.