For years, people in Pinellas have been bragging about a wine bar called A Taste for Wine in downtown St. Petersburg. Saturday night I decided to take a visit for myself and see what all the fuss was about.
I almost missed the walkway leading up to this second story Central Avenue wine bar because it’s artfully blended into the building it’s housed in. If I hadn’t looked up at a charming iron balcony, I would have walked right by. If the wine proved to be as good as this place looked from the street, I knew I had just found a dear new friend in A Taste for Wine.
As I walked down their hidden brick hallway and up two flights of stairs, I became excited about what I might find when I opened the door. I was not disappointed! Taste for Wine is a “wine art gallery” with a charming bar!
My date and I were instantly greeted by the warm and inviting smiles of the owner, Rochelle Smith and her lovely waitress Rene. Rochelle explained to us as we took a seat at the bar, that she had been in business for 16 years and offered fine wines by the glass, bottle or retail, by-the-case. We told her we loved Merlot and she suggested a glass of 2009
Folie a’ Deux Merlot from Napa Valley, California. Smith described it as pomegranate, blueberry and floral. Upon tasting it I decided it was smooth, full-flavored but lightly tart. It was pure heaven in a glass for me. My date, who normally is picky about wine was impressed as well. The Merlot was as fabulous tasting as it was inexpensive. The price by the glass was $4.25 for 3 oz., $8 for 6 oz. and $23 for the bottle.
Delighted with our selection, we decided to explored the outside balcony. Once seated at our table, we instantly fell under the spell of the old world charm of this New Orléans style balcony. What a relaxing place to sip our tasty glass of wine. There were many gently stressed wrought iron tables and chairs plus a fluffy love seat that made us feel immediately at home. We loved watching the people below us as we enjoyed our Merlot and talked about our busy day. Very romantic and peaceful.
If red wines and Merlot are not your thing A Taste for Wine has a variety of white wines including a Riesling Spatlese from Germany and a champagne from Italy. For the beer fan they have 26 different imports and micro-brews. My date was quick to point out “most sports bars don’t have that large of a selection of beer”. They also serve delicious appetizers and deserts that would tempt a saint.
A Taste for Wine has a large selection of handcrafted wines on their menu. These wines are chosen from over 300 retail wines that they rotate on and off the menu for continual variety. I love the fact that the retail wines are proudly and artfully displayed on the wall as you first walk in. The wall looks as impressive as the wine selection is large. Even the most diehard wine critic would agree the collection is extensive.
A Taste for Wine has more to offer that than just great wine and a wonderful balcony. The inside is just as inviting as the outside. It has the look and feel of an art galley with couches and coffee tables around the edges of a tastefully decorated room. There are a total of four cozy rooms at each filled with comfy nooks and crannies that are perfect for a romantic date or just a friendly chat with friends. I can even imagine myself coming here alone with a book and just decompressing after a stressful day.
If you are looking for an adventure in wine combined with a cozy romantic setting, I highly recommend A Taste for Wine in downtown St. Petersburg.
Tuesday – Thursday, 1:00pm – 9:00pm. Friday – Saturday, 2:00pm – 12:00am. Sunday, 4:00pm – 9:00pm. Closed Mondays.
Tampa Bay Wine Escape is a weekly column on the area’s best spots to have a glass of wine by Tampa Bay radio host Barbara Ann Kelley. Know of a great Tampa Bay area spot Barbara Ann should head to next? E-mail her at email@example.com.