The Austin Chronicle

Max's Wine Program

By Wes Marshall, July 17, 2009, Food

Max's Wine Dive's spicy comfort foods are just half the story at this Downtown eatery. Like several other places, it offers wine prices somewhat higher than stores but significantly lower than most full-service restaurants, and all wines are available at even further discounts when you buy them for off-premise consumption. Max's also offers a number of attractive wine deals to get folks in the door. Probably the best is the case price of $200 for Max's luxury red or white wine picks. The wines change frequently, but recently it was either a Monterey Vineyards Chardonnay or a Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon. Then, to sweeten the deal a little further, it's also offering a $50 gift card (usable only for food and wine consumed on-premises) to anyone who buys a case of wine. That $50 really pays off when you buy an Argentine Martin Fierro wine (Torrontes would be my choice) for $100.

For folks dining in, the wine list holds several great choices for quenching some of the spicy burn. The La Poema Cava ($8.75 glass, $4.25 at happy hour, $29 bottle) has tongue-tickling bubbles and refreshing acidity that will work well in tandem with the southern-fried chicken. Any restaurant that serves Sancerre by the glass is all right by me, and Max's has the lightly grapefruity Langlois Chateau Sancerre for $11.75 a glass or $45 a bottle. I'll be there at happy hour when the glass price drops to $5.50. And there are currently three wines sold by the bottle not to be missed, both for flavor and because they are priced very close to retail: Chapoutier Belleruche Blanc ($29), Tablas Creek Cotes de Tablas Red ($39), and Ruinart Blanc de Blanc Champagne ($74).

If there are any high rollers left out there shopping for premium wines, Max's offers an interesting option in which you pay for a case of more expensive wine and Max's gives you a second case of an almost equally rare and valuable wine for free. The wine program at Max's is worth watching. It offers creative and thrifty options and is trying several new ideas, all of which spell savings for the careful consumer.

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