Why I love the little gal

I admit that I buy most all of my wine and spirits at the largest, several-decades-old, Denver liquor store in the land – though I’m in love with the so-called little gal. She’s the gal (or guy) that runs and owns and puts up with all the hassle of trying to keep an independent, specialty boutique wine store alive and profitable (while living in the shadows of those megastores).

I buy most all of my wine at the warehouse-size place for the same reasons most of us do: There’s a lot to choose from and after the case discount, you can’t beat the price.

But it’s really the little gal I like best. I like that the owners are often so over-the-top enthusiastic about their stock, they can tell you the names of the vintners and the vintners’ relatives. They can tell you the terrain and the climate the grape grew in, and they can tell you about the way they came to know of their special wines because their travels often introduced them to the very vinos they stock.

They come up against crazy liquor laws that won’t allow them to franchise their operations and they must not only pay employees to keep their joints going, those employees have to be fairly sophisticated and interested in wine themselves, or they’re not very good employees to have in a little wine shop.

But I also appreciate what the little gals do to get the word out and their enthusiasm in executing each and every stay-up-late-at-night effort they make. They host wine tastings, they bring in cheese and other victuals pairings, they build and distribute fanciful and often informative eNewsletters, and they greet you with cheer no matter the time of day you drop into their place.

One of them (at least) has his dog in the shop all day long with him and, though it has nothing to do with selling wine, I like that the dog is there.

So while you’re stocking up for the summer with your cases of chardonnay, and your 12-packs of special, Colorado-microbrewed beer, while you’re grabbing that gallon of margarita mix at the large and long-standing big liquor stores, remember the little gal in your neighborhood.

She’s the one that will take back the six bottles of icky Beaujolais you bought for the holidays and never drank. She’ll make sure you know, before anyone else, about the 2007 Juan Gil Jumilla she’s putting on sale at half price next week, so you can load up before the stock’s depleted.

And she’s the one without the large marketing budget but with the big tuition bills for her kids. And she’s right around the corner.

Here are just a few boutique wine shops and their Web addresses. Visit once, sign up for their eNewsletter and attend a tasting. Successful retail is a sign of healthy real estate values, but a successful wine store is a sign of good taste. Join their fan clubs on Facebook, follow them on Twitter. Then return to their business repeatedly. It’s good for the soul.

Joy Wine & Spirits, www.joywineandspirits.com
Divino, www.divinowine.com
City Wine, www.citywine.com
D’Vine Wine, www.divinewineusa.com

Word o’ the Week

Botrytis cinerea: The fungus that attacks the grape skins under specific climatic conditions (usually alternating periods of moisture and sunny weather). It causes the grape to become super-concentrated because it causes a natural dehydration. Botrytis cinerea is essential for the great sweet white wines of Barsac and Sauternes. It rarely occurs in the Rhône Valley because of the dry, constant sunshine and gusty winds. (Thank you, Robert Parker.)

One Winning Wine Tasting

Chocolate, Wine & Mom, Mothers Day Appreciation

On Saturday, May 15, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., D’Vine Wine, 1660 Champ Street in Denver hosts “Chocolate, Wine & Mom, Mothers Day Appreciation.”

Treat mom or someone special to this decadent event which offers wine pairings with succulent Godiva chocolates and imported organic French truffles.
Attendees will get five hand-selected wine tastings, a chocolate tray, and tasting booklet to take home. Everyone gets a free glass of wine of their choice following the event and there’s an opportunity to win a private tasting at a later date for six people. Cost is $29. Visit www.winewithclass.net for further information.

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