by Claire Walter
Colorado in general and the Denver area in particular have become known for great microbrews and brewpubs, but this is also a place where locals know and love their wine. Colorado passed a law several years ago allowing wine and liquor stores to conduct in-store wine tastings. Customers may taste four 1-ounce samples (4 ounces total per tasting) of wine, beer or spirits. Many shops pride themselves on carrying small-batch wines that may not be available elsewhere in the metro area. Knowledgeable staffers can guide customers through the tasting process and also discuss the grapes, the terroir where they were grown and the winemaker’s approach. Below are some metro area stores that offer regularly scheduled FREE wine tastings (sometimes including cheese and crackers or other small bites).
Here are four of my favorites:
If you saw the film “Somm,” you have an idea of how rigorous the examination for Master Sommelier is. There are currently only 140 of these elite wine experts in all of North America, The Boulder Wine Merchant was established by two of them (Wayne Belding and Sally Mohr, who became only the second woman to achieve this status). In 2010, the torch passed when master somm Brett Zimmerman purchased the store. It is known for its knowledgeable staff and for selling only good, carefully selected wines at surprisingly reasonable, and always, fair prices. The rare wines are secured in the back of the store. Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. 2690 Broadway, Boulder.
Divino Wines & Spirits dropped anchor on Denver’s South Broadway before South Broadway was really cool. In fact, we think that Divino elevated the street in the eyes of wine connoisseurs, beer aficionados and others who appreciate the diverse selection of adult beverages and the good life they represent. The space is long and narrow with wine racked on custom light wood shelves on either side, so when you walk through, you’ll feel as if you are in a tunnel of wine. Being in an increasingly artsy area, Divino also is know for cool wine posters. Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 1240 S. Broadway, Denver.
Marczyk Fine Wines is a happy adjunct to Marczyk Fine Foods, a super-specialty grocer that is known for to-quality domestic and imported foods. The wine tastings are accompanied by food tastings — often cheeses from Denver’s trend-setting in-store cheese cave. Marczyk’s sister restaurant to the east is Fairfax Fine foods and its adjacent wine shop, so it also has both food and wine components. Thursdays and Fridays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 770 E. 17th Ave., Denver.
Mondo Vino is the original neighborhood wine store in the burgeoning Highlands ‘hood. This spacious corner store early on gained renown for a good selection of the wines of the German-speaking countries and eastern Europe that are largely underrepresented in this country. Tucked into the back of the store is the vaulted “cave,” where the rarest wines are found. Fridays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. 3601 W. 32nd Ave., Denver.
More Free Wine Tastings
Alfalfa’s Wine, Beer & Spirits, Boulder. Tuesdays and Fridays, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. 1601 Broadway.
Amore Vino, Englewood. Thursdays, 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 10111 Inverness Main St.
Argonaut Wine & Liquor, Denver. Irregularly scheduled tastings; click on “Events” on the store’s home page or call 303-831-7788. 760 E. Colfax Ave.
Bubbles Liquor World, Castle Rock. Many Saturdays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Click on “Events Calendar” on the home page or call 303-468-8100. 675 Genoa Way.
Cornerstone Wine & Liquor, Aurora. Fridays, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 15405 E. Briarwood Circle, Unit C.
Cost Plus World Market, Cherry Creek/Glendale. Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Includes small snack in the wine shop and once a month, more samples in the main store. Skyline Plaza, Glendale, 303-758-0530.
Davidsons Liquors, Highlands Ranch. Fridays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 5555 Boatworks Dr.
Daveco, Thornton. Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. 16434 N. Washington St.
Fairfax Wine & Spirits, Denver. Fridays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays, 2 to 4 p.m. 5100 E. Colfax Ave.
Hazel’s Beverage World, Boulder. Fridays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. 1955 Pearl St.
Heritage Wine & Liquor, Centennial. Fridays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Heritage Place Shopping Center, 7475 E Arapahoe Rd.
Incredible Wine & Spirits, Greenwood Village. Fridays, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Arapahoe Marketplace Shopping Center, 8557 E Arapahoe Rd.
Keg Liquors, Denver. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. 2860 S. Colorado Blvd.
King Soopers, Glendale. Fridays, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. 4600 Leetsdale Dr.
Lido Wine Merchants, Littleton. Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. 2529 W. Main St.
Mayfair Liquors, Denver. Fridays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., 1385 Krameria St.
North Boulder Liquors, Boulder. Fridays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 3990 N. Broadway.
Pettyjohn’s Liquor & Wine, Boulder. Fridays, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. 613 S. Broadway, Table Mesa Shopping Center (north side).
Primo Vino, Arvada. Fridays and Saturdays, 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 1713 Olde Wadsworth Blvd.
ReserveList, Aurora. Thursdays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Eagle Bend Marketplace, 22691 E. Aurora Pkwy., Unit B-1.
Tenacity Wine Shop, Longmont. Fridays, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. 700 Tenacity Dr., Unit 102, Prospect New Town.
Tipsy’s Liquor World, Littleton. Fridays, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. 5869 S Alkire St.
Uncorked Wine & Spirits, Windsor. Fridays, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. 1345 Water Valley Pkwy. 970-674-2861.
The Vineyard Wine Shop, Denver. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 261 Fillmore St., Cherry Creek North.
West End Wine Shop, Boulder. Saturdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. 777 Pearl St.
Wines Off Wynkoop, Denver. Fridays, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. 1610 16th St. (alley location behind The Tattered Cover).
Whole Foods Wine & Spirits, Boulder. Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (in conjunction with the grocery section of the market) and Saturdays, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (may be wine, beer or spirits). 2905 Pearl St.
In addition, tasting rooms at Front Range wineries (not vineyards where grapes are grown but wineries where wines are made) offer samples of their own wines.