Wine of the Times | Dish | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Restaurant Reviews

Wine of the Times

If you've ever tried to order wine from a Napa vintner, you know that the United States is not a free country when it comes to oenophiliacs. In Florida, wine lovers are second-class citizens, denied our God-given access to the Syrahs, Pinots, and Cabernets of our dreams. I fell in love with a terrific little sparkling wine called Étoile on vacation in California, but when I tried to ship home enough of the stuff to last me at least a couple of weeks, it was no dice. Domaine Chandon has a big map in its foyer with Florida marked in red as a no-ship state. I was on a five-bottle limit: The only way I could send more bubbly to Lake Worth was to trek back and forth to Napa and order it in person.

But by the time I got home in early August, wine enthusiasts were celebrating the end of Prohibition. A Florida federal judge had ruled our barbaric shipping laws -- which prevent consumers from ordering directly from out-of-state wineries -- unconstitutional. In theory, our favorite boutique wines will soon be just a mouse click away. Let's raise a glass to the Honorable James D. Wittemore!

Still, until the legal wrangling is sorted out, I'll be relying on the knowledge and persistence of Giancarlo de Falco and Maria Luis, a husband and wife from Buenos Aires who a year ago opened Wine Living (400 Clematis Street, 561-802-3328), a warm and handsome wine shop-cum-café, in downtown West Palm Beach. They can order just about anything my little heart desires, even the desires I don't have yet. The couple hosts wine tastings every Wednesday night for a $10 to $25 fee. The last time I went, they were offering a program of Italians, six bottles from a fruity Gavi and a nutty Pinot Grigio through a ruby-hued Chianti Classico. We had oysters, escargots, scallops, and cheese with the wine; the company, too, was delicious. There's not a hint of snobbery: You can be as dumb as a fencepost about nose and finish, and they'll only love you all the more. They also run a wine club, where for $35 you get two personally chosen boutique bottles each month -- a great initiation for those with a thing or two to learn.

Unlike most wine shops, Wine Living also serves a menu of panini and appetizers from their small kitchen. You can buy a bottle, sink into one of their comfy couches, or pull up a chair at a sidewalk table, and hang in the late evening sunshine like a ripening Zinfandel grape.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Gail Shepherd
Contact: Gail Shepherd

Latest Stories