Walter Mencken 11 a.m., Nov. 27
Craft beer and wine to go
Bine and Vine in Normal Heights is right across the street from Lestat's in a former drug store. The shop has the look of a convenience store, but it's almost entirely dedicated to craft beer and wine sales. The interesting word "bine" implies a climbing plant similar to a vine that's characterized by spiral shaped growth around a support.
Like Bottlecraft in little Italy or Clem's in Kensington, Bine and Vine's inventory is focused on "good stuff." Beers from European and American craft brewers fill the coolers and the racks at the store's center cradle a short but compelling selection of wines. In some respects, the selection is breathtaking. One reach-in cooler has bottles of French cider that will boggle the mind of any Julian Hard Cider fan. Another shelf has bottles of mead in many flavors. The wines are a mix of New- and Old World stuff and it's no exaggeration to say that there's a little something for everyone.
As it is, the store has an under-stocked feel. Perhaps that's a good thing, as having too much inventory leads eventually to product decay, but curiosity wants to see what new and interesting things turn up.
The only real fault is that the majority of beer is confined to the coolers, so buying room temperature bottles for cellaring (or at least storing outside of a refrigerator) isn't much of an option. The wines don't have this problem, and there are plenty of whites in the chill chest for impromptu purchase as well.
Bine and Vine's inventory is narrow, but deep, like a chasm or a deep ocean rift. While the selections are limited to fine wines and craft beers, the variability within that slender definition is great and anyone looking to go beyond the immediate reach of the tap lists at BLAH or Small Bar would do well to pop in and refresh his personal holdings. The shop is implementing an online ordering system at bineandvine.com, which, despite cryptic shipping policies, could extend opportunities for others who are sadly estranged from a good beer and wine shop.
3334 Adams Avenue
Open daily 10-10