Second Helpings: Wine

In this week's installment of the weekly dining guide Second Helpings, Chronicle food writer Wes Marshall covers Austin's best wine stores.

Austin Wine Merchant
Austin Wine Merchant (Photo By John Anderson)

Tasty, bite-sized restaurant listings compiled from new and previous reviews, guides, and poll results. This week's entries were compiled by Chronicle food writer Wes Marshall. When you need quick, reliable information about Austin eateries, check here.

Austin Wine Merchant

512 West Sixth, 499-0512

Mon-Sat, 9:30am-6:30pm

About a year ago, John Roegnik relocated his operation from a quaint (read:small) location off Guadalupe and Seventh to a more high-profile West Sixth Street location that affords his clientele plenty of room to peruse his large stock. Local wine aficionados frequent Roegnik's store because of his exemplary service and informed personal recommendations. The store temperature is chilly for humans but perfect for bottles of wine. Great European wine selection and home delivery; case lot discount is 15%, mixed cases, 10%.

The Cellar

3520 Bee Caves Road, 328-6464

Mon-Fri, 10am-7pm; Sat, 10am-6pm

Leonard Joseph and Sue Carter operate this cozy, comfortable wine establishment in West Lake. Friendly service extends to Sue's creative recommendations for wine/food pairings. The owners' area of expertise is California wine, and they publish an informative, free bi-monthly newsletter which always includes some interesting sale items. Tastings on Saturdays, 11am-5pm. Home delivery is available. Case lot discount (cash or check) is 17%; mixed cases, 12%.

Central Market

4001 N. Lamar, 206-1000

Daily, 9am-9pm

Convenience personified. Go see what is fresh and appealing in the food area, then investigate wines to match. What you will find is a broad selection that is fairly priced. The California wine selection is far-reaching. The rest of the world is well-represented also, especially wonderful wine bargains from Spain. Unusual for a grocery store, they have five wine stewards waiting to help. 10% discount on any 12 bottles.

Central Market Westgate

4477 S. Lamar, 899-4300

Daily, 9am-9pm

CM Westgate retains the Central Market experience, but somehow feels like casual South Austin, too. The wine area appears to be a little larger than the original CM, and there are some differences in the wine selection. There is a constant commitment here to bringing customers unique wines. Manager April Lowe is exuberant and excited and it shows in her staff. I love that she signs her name "April Wine." 10% discount on any 12 bottles.

Grapevine Market

7938 Great Northern Blvd., 323-5900

Mon-Sat, 10am-9pm

The 1999 Food and Wine Magazine Retailer of the Year. Grapevine Market carries over 4,000 different wines, one of the largest wine selections in Texas. Grapevine also has a gourmet food section (be sure to try the four-year-old gouda cheese -- an explosion of flavor). The store is very large, which gives shoppers room to comfortably browse. Tastings and classes are offered. 15% discount on any 12 bottles.

Reuben's Emporium

11637 Research, 345-2866

Mon-Sat, 10am-9pm

This is the high-end shop of the Reuben's chain. In the wine section, you will find some of the most expensive wines available in Austin, as well as some serendipitous bargains. If you're looking for high-priced, boutique wines, you'll find them here. 5% discount on any 12 bottles.

Twin Liquors

3652 Bee Caves Road, 327-0315

Mon-Sat, 10am-9pm

Twin Liquors is a fairly large chain, but this particular store offers terrific personal service. Russell Smith, the manager, is an ex-winemaker with a keen palate and a bias toward value in wines. Russell is also a careful buyer who finds some wonderful deals for his customers. He keeps over 1,200 wines in stock. 15% discount on any 12 bottles.

Wiggy's

1130 West Sixth, 474-9463

Mon-Sat, 10am-9pm

Wiggy's has a great vibe. It feels like late Sixties Austin, as if the original Oat Willie's sold wine. When you enter the back wine room, you'll find a very good wine selection, including some surprisingly older bottles. It's a little too cramped for earnest inspection, but diligence can pay off in finding some unexpected treasures. 17% discount on any 12 bottles.

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