Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wine••Sense: Bottled Poetry

While persuing Local Wine Events, an excellent site for listings of upcoming wine events all across the country, I noticed a listing for Wine••Sense, a wine store in Andover. I had never heard of this wine store before so I checked out their website for more information. Their site is essentially a one-page newsletter, posting a list of upcoming events along with some very basic information about the store.

On June 19, Eileen Wright of Adonna Imports was presiding over a tasting of some Italian summer wines. I am a big fan of the wines of Adonna Imports and also know they generally only distribute their wines to small, more unique wine stores. So I decided to attend the tasting and check out the store.

Wine••Sense is located on North Main Street (Rt.28), just a short bit north of The Cupcake Boutique. But Wine••Sense is nestled in the back of a small commercial complex so it is not easily visible from the road. It is close to the Whole Foods Market so you can use that as a landmark. You can even park in the Whole Foods Market lot.

The store itself is small, a single room, which their business card describes as "0.005574 hectares of meticulously-chosen wines from around the world." Most of the wine shelves looking like the photo above, presenting the wines so it is easy to read their labels. That makes browsing simple. There is a small refrigerated unit and they will be adding more refrigerated units in the near future. I estimate they have about 200-250 different wines in stock. In the middle of the store is an island where the tastings are held, and also where some of the wines are stored. They also sell some Riedel stemware.

Samanta Turner is the owner of Wine••Sense and is a petite woman filled with passion and energy. She is also very personable and I spent a little time chatting with her about the store. It has been open for a couple years. Samanta generally stocks the wines she enjoys drinking. She does not carry the mass-produced wines, the "usual suspects" as I say, which are available in many other wine and liquor stores. Instead, she seeks out quality wines that may be a bit less known. She is conscious of her customers though and tries to keep the prices of the wines at a reasonable level.

I was impressed by her selection of wines. Many of her Italian wines are from the Adonna Imports portfolio so I know they are generally excellent wines. I was familiar with some of the other wines as well, and those I knew were very good choices. It is definitely more of a boutique winery, with a more intriguing selection than a local package store. These are wines that most people would enjoy, if they gave them the chance. Though they may seem unfamiliar, they are wines very much worth drinking. Prices for their wines are comparable to prices in other similar wine stores. So they have not marked up the price of their wines.

I was also impressed by Samanta's passion. She has been involved in the food and wine industry for about fifteen years and she obviously has a great love of wine. And this wine store is where she can do what she loves and where she can continue learning about wine. As I have said repeatedly, it is such passion which is a primary ingredient in all of the best places. She is not pretentious in the least and seems to embrace the joy and fun of wine. It was a real pleasure to talk with her. I will be returning to this store for future tastings as well as just to check out what new wines they have available.

I will be discussing the Italian summer wines tasting in a separate post but do want to mention a couple things here as well. First, a few members of North Shore Winers also came to this tasting with me and they all enjoyed this wine store. Second, as it is a small store, tastings could get crowded if a large number of people showed up. Thursday was not a problem though as there were only about 12-15 people present at any one time.

This is definitely a wine store which I recommend. If you are in the area, stop by and check out the store. Or make a special trip to Andover to visit the store and hit some of the other sites as well, such as The Cupcake Boutique.

166 North Main Street
Andover, MA
Phone: 978-749-9464

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