Many transplants to Colorado consider the liquor laws here odd. For instance, every bar is required to serve food and no liquor store proprietor is allowed to own more than one liquor license. This last law, while disconcerting to some people who are used to buying alcohol at grocery chains, creates an environment where small batch brewers, distillers and vintners thrive.
It is the unique wines from small sustainable producers who create artisanal wines at great values that find shelf space in Denver. And it is our wine merchants, who share their love of the drinkability of wine with their customers in straightforward language, that make buying wine in Denver fun.
Marczyk's Fine Wines-Uptown
It’s a warm summer Friday night, perfect for a glass of wine on your patio. You walk down to Marckyk’s Fine Wines for an inexpensive bottle of wine, when you remember: it’s Friday. The meaty smell of grilling hamburgers wafts your way. Voices of cheerful neighbors fill up the sidewalk. In Marczyk’s Fine Wines, this week’s picks are being poured while the hostess describes their flavors with amazing accuracy and tangible adjectives.
Located in the Uptown neighborhood within eyesight of downtown, Marczyk’s Fine Wines’ motto is to present "the best wines you've never heard of,” like Schiava, an Alto Adige wine vineyard workers in Italy drink.
Marczyk’s owners spread their love of wine outside their store as well, partnering with local non-profits such as the Teller School, Good Shepherd School, American Wine Society, Denver Chapter, St Anne's and the Fax Partnership to help raise money for good causes.
Free Wine & Pared Cheese Tastings: Fridays 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Mondo Vino-The Highlands
Becoming part of the community is important for any business to be successful, but the owners of Mondo Vino took it a step farther by helping to bring up the community around them. Since 1999, when the West Highlands neighborhood was more neglected than trendy, Mondo Vino has been the cornerstone of a community continually committed to improvement, sponsoring community events from the annual street fair to school fundraisers.
The store is a more of a community center than liquor store; a place where neighbors meet and catch up, where the owners and employees know everyone’s name, as well as their kids’ and dogs’ names. They pride themselves on helping each friend find the perfect bottle of wine, from a simple table wine for take-out to a bottle that excites the pallet of a discerning connoisseur.
Free Wine and Pared Cheese Tastings: Fridays and Saturdays from 2:00-7:00pm.
The Empty Bottle-Platt Park
The Platt Park neighborhood, which, to orient you, encompasses Old South Pearl St., is a growing family neighborhood. This is reflected in the businesses neighborhood-families shop at like The Empty Bottle. As you enter the cozy bottle shop complete with a friendly family pooch, the owner’s youngest child will greet you with a friendly “Hi,” and you’re likely to see their eldest child helping set up an event.
It was this family atmosphere that led the couple to expand next-door to open (in September 2012) Bin 1884 Cheese Bar. They wanted a place where parents could bring their children and still enjoy an inexpensive glass of wine, as well as a well paired cheese and antipasti plate or grilled cheese special.
In addition to the great deals customers have come to depend on, like the three for $25 rack a the front of the store, The Empty Bottle/Bin 1884 caters to its neighbors by selling picnic lunches at the Pearl Street Farmers Market.
Free Wine Tastings: Fridays and Saturdays 5:00-7:00pm
Coming this fall, Raclette Cheese and wine tastings at Bin 1884. Dates and times TBA.
Little Raven Vineyard-LoDo
For some sommeliers, sharing the passion for wine is all about teaching. That is the approach of Little Raven Vineyards in LoDo. Named for Arapaho Chief Little Raven, who taught the “palefaces” how to eat well in Colorado, Little Raven Vineyards wine shop teaches Denverites how to drink well.
With their Vine & Dine Dinners, Executive Chef Eric Nelson of Starizon and a Little Raven sommelier bring the art of wine paring into your home, creating a personalized pairing of extraordinary wine and food. While enjoying their creations, the sommelier will guide you and your guests through “an exploration of artisan and small-production wines that compliment each dish.”
If you’re not as much into food as the wine itself, Little Raven’s A Class of Wine provides you with a sommelier in your own home, or at one of their venues, to taste selections customized to your tastes, interests and budget. Grape Games challenges your business employees with fun tastings, while building camaraderie and teaching about wine in this atypical team-building experience.
Free Wine Tastings: Wednesdays 4:00-7:00pm and Saturdays 2:00-7:00pm
Wines off Wynkoop-Downtown
Wines off Wynkoop – Downtown
Like the pioneers that settled Colorado, Wines off Wynkoop pioneered wine shopping in Downtown Denver in 1997. The rustic shop surrounded with brick walls and massive old support timbers winds up split-level stairs back into the building like a mineshaft tracing a gold vein. Digging through their bottled offerings, you’re likely to find off-the-beaten-path gems.
Back in the day, Denver was the place miners came to freshen up, catch up on news and share their goods. In that spirit, Wines off Wynkoop treats their walls as public space for local artists to showcase their talent. You buy the art directly from the artists, with 80 percent of proceeds going to the artist and the 20 percent commission of the art finder going to local charities.
Free Wine Tasting: Fridays 1:00-6:00pm.
Have you ever gone out to a restaurant like say, Bistro One, The Village Cork, Pasquinis or the Black Pearl, ordered the most amazing bottle of wine and wish you could stock up at home? Thanks to the folks at Divino, you can. They believe wine is for everyone at any time, not just a privilege. They have collaborated with area restaurants to present the best wine-lists around the neighborhood they can, featuring wines from each list in the store.
Not sure what you want to drink? Ask a certified staff sommelier to suggest something new in the ever-changing world of wine or lounge on a sofa to peruse one of the many wine books or magazines provided by the store. Divino staff will help you integrate wine into your everyday life, with bottles in whatever your price range from $5 to $50.
Divino also has the largest Grappa selection in the state and carries sakes featured at the Sushi Den.
Free Wine, Beer and Liqueur Tastings: Saturdays 2:00-6:00pm
Vineyard Wine Shop-Cherry Creek North District
The Vineyard wine shop in Cherry Creek is all about wine. Not just drinking and selling of wines, but spreading the good word about wine throughout the state. Through their very own wine radio station (available at am760 and on the I Heart Radio app.) and online video programming (wineguystv.com), they educate and inform wine consumers throughout Colorado and nationwide.
Their love of engaging people with wine extends through their doors and online. In business since 1971, they help their customers come up with the perfect gift baskets, wine accoutrement and even customized wine of the month packages. Online they focus on spreading their wines around the metro area through their 11 wine-of-the-month clubs, each coming with its own WinePress magazine.
Free Wine Tastings: Friday and Saturdays 2:00-5:30pm