When most people think of New Orleans they think of beads, boobs and mind-numblingly strong cocktails like the Hurricane or the Sazerac which could easily flatly lay out even the biggest boozehounds in a matter of hours. Likewise, most folks also swoon over the big bold flavors that have come to define New Orleans-style Creole cuisine where signature menu items like jambalaya, gumbo and po boys dominate. But on my last trip to New Orleans, I discovered WINO, Wine Institute New Orleans, a slightly off the beaten path little place that offered a great counterpoint to the New Orleans I had already come to know and love.
WINO is actually so much more than its name suggests. In addition to offering regular tasting classes and intensive professional courses for oenophiles, WINO is also open for tastings by the general public seven days a week. Using a state-of-the-art wine serving system, WINO even allows patrons to sample more than 120 wines by the ounce, half glass, and full glass so they can decide how much or how little they want to indulge in a particular vintage. On my visit to WINO, I sampled my all-time favorite, a Puligny-Montrachet and it was an extraordinary experience…made all the more memorable by the fact that it is so rare to find a Puligny-Montrachet by the glass on any menu, let alone at a casual Monday afternoon tasting. Let’s just say my heart was won over at that point.
And if my affections hadn’t already been won over, the beautiful lunch I enjoyed at the quaint café on the premises of WINO would have sealed the deal. The menu is simple and changes regular but basically it’s filled with fresh, delicious sandwiches and salads that are a welcome change of pace after a week of deep-fried seafood po boys, étoufee and beignets. If you’re not in the mood for lunch WINO also serves a variety of pates, cheeses, hummus and other light food items to pair with your wine selections. After all, you’ve got to have something on your stomach to soak up all that great wine right? (Oh and if wine is not your thing…and you‘re more of a Kelly Bensimmon beer kinda gal, WINO’s got premium label beers and hard ciders to choose from as well.)
Just blocks away from Harrah’s, which has become my regular New Orleans outpost because of its great location, over-the top friendly service and spacious rooms, and just down the street from Mother’s Restaurant, my equally beloved old school sandwich shop which has one of the best boiled ham sandwiches on the planet, WINO is a welcome new addition to New Orleans and you should definitely give it a try on your next stop in the Big Easy.
Wine Institute New Orleans| 610 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130 |504.324.8000 | www.winoschool.com
MoxieQ Rating: Creole Crazy-licious