If you enjoy wine, especially quality Old World wines often from overlooked wineries, and the more balanced producers from the New, you owe yourself a visit to Vinology. I am regular customer of 13 Celsius and Camerata, the two best wine bars in Houston. These are bars that also sell wine. Houston Wine Merchant is a terrific wine shop, but it is just a retail outlet. Vinology is a retail shop that has a small wine bar – there is a about a dozen seats at the bar – which allows you to sample wines to give you an idea of what might appeal to your palate. Or, just sample wines to expand your palate. Nicely, they typically offer about a half-dozen wine flights of three wines each in particular theme. A recent one featured three styles of Lambrusco (charmat, metodo classico and metodo ancestrale); white Burgundy; Portuguese whites; Tre Tuscan Sangiovese (Chianti Classico, Rosso di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano); Sonoma County Syrah); and New Zealand Reds.
It’s been my experience from the couple flights I have sampled, is that the wines are very well chosen. The flights might cost between $12 and $20, but they seem to be a very fair value, and fun to taste. To note, tax and a 20% gratuity are included on top of that. In addition to the wine flights, there are weekly seminars that might cost $10 or $15, including one tonight featuring the wines of the lauded Alois Lageder from the mountainous Alto Adige in northern Italy. There are also free tastings each Friday from a local importer, a great way to sample interesting wines.
For retail, Vinology has about 350 wines, with a large percentage from Italy and France, a very good thing in my opinion. There is to interest the wine geek, though it avoids a hipster bent, e.g. there are natural wines only when it makes sense. And, prices are pretty decent, actually, better than the wine bars and seemingly in much in line with Spec’s, if they carried these wines.
The Italian emphasis at Vinology might be expected given that the shop is an offshoot of the Italian restaurant divino, which has had a very well-chosen and engaging, if small list of mostly Italian wines since it opened around fifteen years ago. This is a natural extension, and one done very well. Important for a quality wine shop – and a good wine bar, for that matter – the staff is very knowledgeable and helpful, led by Thomas Moesse, Certified Sommelier and Certified Specialist of Wine and formerly divino’s sommelier.
2314 Bissonnet (just west of Greenbriar), 77005, (832) 849-1687