New Ordinance Requires Bouncers at Wine Bars


Beraldo Leal

A new city ordinance requiring certain bars to station bouncers at their doors probably wasn’t meant to protect Charleston’s citizenry from Cotes du Rhone drinkers who huddle around candlelit tables, debating the finer points of French cheese. But because the law applies equally to bars serving liquor and bars serving only beer and wine, Bin 152 is now being forced to pay a door person three nights a week.

“We have 10 to 15 people sitting at the bar, and most of them are there to get away from the drunkenness of upper King,” owner Patrick Panella says of his late-night crowd, adding that he’s never been approached by a patron demanding a last-call shot of Silver Oak. “At the end of the night, everyone’s very polite and cordial.”

According to the ordinance, bars open until 2 a.m. must have at least one security person and one door person on duty after midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights; Exact numbers are contingent upon maximum occupancy limits. The ordinance also stipulates that bar owners monitor parking lots used by patrons; keep their sidewalks clear and close their windows and doors by 11 p.m. if music’s playing. Continue reading

Making Room for Wine in Restaurant Reviews

jamesonWine is a critical component of any great dinner. But how much does it matter in the context of a restaurant review?

Jameson Fink, a Seattle-based wine blogger and friend, recently asked me to tackle that topic on his Wine Without Worry podcast: You can find our freewheeling discussion – complete with egg nog, baseball card and noodle soup digressions — here.

Since I’m in no rush to listen to my recorded voice, I can’t quote myself precisely, but I tend to believe mentioning wine in a restaurant review is a good thing – in moderation. A wine list can reveal a great deal about a restaurant’s philosophies: You don’t need to pick up a fork to figure out the difference between a restaurant serving only California Cabernets and a restaurant showcasing three biodynamic bottles from Slovenia. And a wine list is also a good indicator of a restaurant’s thoughtfulness, since there’s nothing less guest-centric than a collection of costly, name-brand wines which have nothing to do with the food. Continue reading

Chewing Over Minerality in Wine With an Actual Geologist



Minerality, a favorite word of wine lovers, is sometimes assailed for being non-specific: “It’s a word everyone’s using for everything,” a Chablis producer grumped in a recent Wall Street Journal column devoted to the term’s omnipresence.

But a recent conversation with wine blogger Jameson Fink prompted me to wonder whether the real problem is drinkers’ limited understanding of geology. Does “minerality” mean something else to earth science pros? Can a Ph.D. taste notes of igneous rocks?

Sadly, no, says Bob Nusbaum, a geology professor at the College of Charleston who conducted research at North Carolina wineries (presumably on topics slightly more sophisticated than the one I asked him to address.) Continue reading

Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival Tickets Now on Sale

If you don’t want to disembark the festival train after Charleston Wine + Food wraps up on Mar. 9, the Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival starts the following day.

Tickets are now on sale for the six-day festival, which boasts “the largest outdoor tented public wine tasting on the East Coast.”

Now in its 29th year, the festival is highly wine-centric. More than 850 wines are entered in the event’s International Wine Competition, which is conducted in late January, and New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov is planning to join the Grand Tasting on Mar. 14.

The festival schedule also includes wine seminars and wine dinners. For more information, visit

Communion Wine Club Pops Up Again at High Wire Distilling Co.

Full-bodied, Piedmontese reds are especially well-suited to the holiday season, according to advanced sommelier Patrick Emerson, who’s devoting his next pop-up wine bar to Northern Italian wines.

“They are some of our personal favorites, especially the wines from Barolo and Barbaresco,” says Emerson, who this year launched Communion Wine Club as an umbrella organization for his consulting services and events.

Emerson and Kevin Kelley will pour more than 20 “hard-to-find” wines at the Dec. 13 event at High Wire Distilling Co., 652 King St. Wines will be available in three- and six-ounce portions; customers can also purchase wines by the bottle.

The party runs from 6 p.m.-12 midnight. For more information, visit Communion Wine Club’s website.

Patrick Emerson Wine Bar Pops Up at High Wire Distilling Co.

A pop-up may sounds like a casual affair, but advanced sommelier Patrick Emerson is taking his upcoming temporary residency at High Wire Distilling Co. so seriously that he’s created a video to promote it.

As Emerson says in the ad, the Nov. 14 event will feature Sicilian wines, including a few varietals which Emerson surmises many potential tasters have never heard of. He’s quite possibly right, since I can’t make sense of the two grapes he mentions before Nero d’Avola: I’d like to blame his British accent, but suspect my knowledge of southern Italian varietals is failing me. (Here’s a comprehensive list of the region’s varietals if you need any help playing along.)

Butcher & Bee is selling take-out snacks for the pop-up, or guests can purchase wine by the bottle and tote it with them to the nearby restaurant. The party runs from 6 p.m. until “late.”

Edible Ways to Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month



A number of local restaurants and bakeries are supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a nearly 30-year old campaign to raise money for breast cancer research and prevention, with dedicated menu items:

  • Fish is also pouring pink drinks for the Center, donating $1 for every pink cocktail and glass of pink wine sold during its Wednesday, Oct. 23 happy hour, which runs from 4:30 p.m.-8 p.m. As extra incentive to support the cause, the first 10 guests to arrive will receive a free glass of sparkling wine.
  • Cupcake DownSouth has created a special “Cupcake for the Cure,” described as “a chocolate cake with cream cheese icing and a pink sugar heart.” For every cupcake sold, the bakery will donate $1 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Customers who make an additional $1 donation will also receive a $1 coupon for use on future visits.

Temporary Wine Bar to Inhabit Proof


Proof calls it a “pop-up wine bar.” Less trendy drinkers might call it a visit from a sales rep. Either way, starting next week, the King Street bar is offering downsized samples of wine on Tuesday afternoons – and plans to keep pouring until the vino’s gone.

Unlike most pop-ups, the wine program won’t completely take over the venue: Proof’s standard cocktail menu will still be available.

According to organizer Kevin Kelley, who represents two wine distributors, 30 wines will be served in three-ounce and five-ounce portions from 4 p.m. onward; patrons can also purchase the featured wines by the bottle. Continue reading

Mac-Off Matches Iconic Side Dish With Beer and Liquor

bildeSouthern Season next week is offering a class on pairing wine with mac-n-cheese, which seems almost too easy: Red wine and cheese are ideal partners.

Yet there won’t be any wine on the menu at Mac-Off, the fourth annual attempt to determine the area’s best mac-n-cheese chef. Restaurants including Rue de Jean, Angel Oak, Poogan’s Porch and Southern Season will sling the side dish at the Grove in Patriot’s Point from 2 p.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12.

So what to drink with the signature dish? Mac-Off’s featuring beer from Sam Adams, Angry Orchard and Bud Light, as well as a bloody Mary bar stocked with Tito’s Vodka, FireFly Moonshine, and Larceny Bourbon. Drinks are included with a VIP ticket, which sells for $50. Continue reading

Greek Fall Festival Adds Beer Garden, Second Wine Tasting Area

greek-festival-gyro-largeThe food options for the first-ever fall edition of the Charleston Greek Festival are slightly abbreviated, but event chair Tony Forsberg promises more beer and wine at the Oct. 4-6 cultural celebration.

“It’s the first time we’re doing a beer garden,” Forsberg says. “And because it’s fall, we’ll have two 60-inch TVs playing football.”

At the spring event, which will celebrate its 44th anniversary next May, the food offerings include chicken and lamb dinners, served with rice, string beans, salad and bread. But since Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox is trying to keep its fall debut manageable, organizers decided to limit the menu to “all the delicious stuff you always get out of the gyro tent,” Forsberg says, plus a few more grilled items. Continue reading