With the recent opening of Davidson Wine Shop in South Main Square, and the coming of Bacchus Wine and Tapas to the Langtree area in late Spring of this year, there will certainly be no shortage of options for wine enthusiasts in the Lake Norman Area. In fact, it could well be argued that with four already-established, quality wine and small plate options in a mere five-mile radius that the market is already saturated. But, upon closer inspection, these spots: Lake Norman Cottage, Cork and Cask, The Wine Cellar, and Corkscrew each offer something unique for wine lovers of all ages and experience in the area, leaving the door open for these new spots to carve out their own unique niche.
Lake Norman Cottage, Davidson
The Spot: When you first walk into Lake Norman Cottage, it feels more like a quaint New England gift shop than a wine bar. Novelties ranging from witty signs to carved bottle holders adorn the walls and it isn’t until you make your way to the back of the shop that you find a very small mobile bar with inverted hanging glasses and shelves filled with bottles for sale. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, the staff is friendly and patio seating is available overlooking the lake.
The Sip: The bottle selection is impressive, but a bit pricey. Wines by the glass ranged from $6 for a Sophia Coppola sparkling can (yes, it comes in a can) to $9 for an Oregon Pinot. The selection here was heavy on American varieties with a few European and South American exceptions.
The Sample: While not the focus, the Cottage does offer a small variety of cheeses, including their “house special” baked brie that they serve during their Friday and Saturday tasting events.
Cork and Cask, Cornelius
The Spot: As their name implies, this hip gastropub-esque bar focuses just as much on their craft beer as their wine. Music posters, beer labels, and wine racks adorn the walls, giving them a unique feel that young, creative foodies will find very attractive.
The Sip: The focus here is definitely on lesser-known boutique wines that you will be hard pressed to find in the local groceries. By-the-glass prices range from $7-12 and include standard varietals as well as some unique blends. Both new and old world are well represented here.
The Sample: The food theme at Cork and Cask could best be described as “modern takes on classic drinking food.” Cheese plates, pretzels, bruschetta, and even nachos are all given a unique, modern twist. They also have some interesting dessert creations for those with a weakness for sweets.
The Corkscrew, Brikdale Village
The Spot: This sleek, modern wine bar sits right on the corner of Lindholm Dr. and Birkdale Commons on the roundabout in Birkdale Village. Surrounded by so many shops, restaurants, and bars, it would be easy for a spot like this to stand out for all the wrong reasons, and yet their laid back atmosphere and excellent prices make for a warm, non-threatening environment for even the most novice wine drinkers.
The Sip: With $6 glass specials everyday, and normal prices ranging from $7-11 per pour, Corkscrew is a great place to come try some new wines for the first time. They also have the largest by-the-glass selection of anyone in the area. If your date really isn’t all that into wine, they also have 12 beer taps as well.
The Sample: The food selection is light and includes mixed nuts, meats, cheeses, and hummus. All plates are $8 and under with a few add-ons available for a few bucks more. If you want wine and cheese but don’t love the wine and cheese crowd, this is a great spot.
The Wine Cellar, Cornelius
The Spot: A strip-mall with a hotdog joint and a Starbucks might be the last place you’d expect to find a European-inspired wine bar, but The Wine Cellar is exactly that. Owner Alain Jeantet was born in France, and his bar and bistro features red and black textured walls and draped chandeliers, giving the Wine Cellar a swanky, Euro-style that stops short of taking itself too seriously thanks to quirky posters and funny scrolling memes on the computer. The bar is a deep, dark wood, and cross-hatched wine shelves fill the walls, showcasing the bottles that are clearly Jeantet’s passion.
The Sip: Bottle prices range from the mid teens to well over $200. The focus here is definitely on quality, though half-priced wine-by-the-glass on Mondays and weekly wine tastings certainly give the impression that the greater goal is exposing people to that aforementioned quality. Old world flavors are better represented here than in the other spots, and Jeantet’s Champagne region upbringing certainly shines through in his love of harder-to-find sparkling bottles. They also recently hired a certified sommelier to further cement their juice credentials.
The Sample: Standard small-plate fare such as cheese samplers, bread, and hummus are all well represented here, but for those with a bigger appetite, The Wine Cellar also offers French Baguette sandwiches ranging from $6-8. They also have a nice selection of small sweet treats and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Look for a menu overhaul here in the very near future.