Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Wine Loft bottom line:  
·         Fabulous, make-out worthy atmosphere
·         Flavorgasmic baked brie en croute
·         Lackluster by-the-glass wine list and staff was seemingly light on wine expertise
Last night we braved the frigid and icy weather of Charlotte’s Snowstorm 2011 to check out The Wine Loft. It's located in South End on South Blvd, in the retail space of an apartment building. I was immediately impressed when we walked in – the room was decorated in a sexy, swanky style with low lighting and mellow mood music. The first thing I said after bellying up to the bar was “I need to make out with a hot guy in here.”  As I am married, that hot guy would most likely be my husband…and I decided immediately to bring him here for said make-out sesh.

 As we perused the wine list, we inquired about what to order food-wise. Both people behind the bar (a young cute female bartender and an older manager-type dude) immediately said “brie”.  A few moments later he even materialized, waving a brie appetizer toward us and said, “this is not your brie, but what your brie will look like”. Thankful for the brie-view, we placed an order for that and a wild mushroom and manchego bruschetta.  

We settled on glasses of wine after putting our poor wine server through the paces trying about five different tastes. Round one for us consisted of the Fairview pinotage and the Paso a Paso tempranillo. Round one was good - the pinotage smelled jammy and tasted smoky and earthy. The tempranillo very bold but dry, with just a touch of fruit. At this point the baked brie en croute arrived…and holy balls it was good. A sizable log of cheese enveloped in puff pastry, encrusted with walnut halves, drizzled with balsamic reduction and served with baguette and apple slices. Yeah. When (not if) you order this, I insist you cram all these elements in your mouth at the same time so you can experience the flavorgasm. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Baked Brie en Croute

Our mushroom manchego bruschetta was also highly enjoyable. The mushrooms were sautéed and had a delicious truffle oil flavor. They were piled on a baguette slice, topped with manchgo and baked to melty goodness. We decided that we could make both of these appetizers at home, and immediately planned a party where we could show off our goddess-like culinary skills. 

Mushroom Manchego Bruschetta

We tried a few other wines, including:
·         Chateau St. Sulspice: French blend, light fruity, a little funky
·         Immortal Zin: half blueberry, half green pepper
·         Mountain View Pinot Noir:  fruit forward, medium bodied
 Our server was sweet and patient with our neurotic indecisiveness, but didn’t seem to know much about wine. She described pinotage as “spicy”, which it absolutely was not, and could only offer vague descriptions of the other wines. A couple other minor blips: they were out of several of the wines we asked about. Generally speaking we weren’t blown away by any particular glass. It’s a tad disappointing to walk away without at least one dank nugget (our team for an incredible glass/bottle that you can’t get enough of). So overall the experience was great – aside from a few minor things, the food was awesome, the wine was pretty good, and I still want to make out with my hot hubs there.

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