Learning about wine, especially French ones, can be an expensive proposition. But not if you live in the Mayfair neighborhood near Fairfax Wine and Spirits. The boutique wine shop, owned by Marczyk Fine Foods next door, offers an impressive selection of New and Old World wines at affordable prices. (The tagline: "The Best Wines You've Never Heard Of" says it all.) Here, the helpful salespeople know the inventory. Give them your price range, tell them your taste preferences, and let them educate you.
Recently, I was looking for a minerally white and was led to La Grave d'Arzac, a white Bordeaux priced, unbelievably, at $9.99. After telling the salesperson that my host was a fan of red Bordeaux, she suggested the Chateau Fontbaude from Cotes de Castillon for just $11.99.
While both wines lack the depth and elegance you'd find at a higher price point, they did possess the characteristics typical of those wines. La Grave d'Arzac, a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, was nicely chalky, and the red, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, was medium-bodied and smelled of blackberries, tobacco, and leather.
If you're ready to expand your palate and wine vocabulary, this is one of the most cost-effective places in town to do so.
5100 E. Colfax Ave., 303-243-3355