City Wine — Love at First Taste :: Denver

Can you fall in love with a small, harshly-lit store in a strip mall along one of Denver’s busiest major streets? If the store is City Wine, it’s love at first sight that deepens with time, going beyond appearances to the friendly, helpful, entertaining personality within.

City Wine’s owners are knowledgeable and passionate about wine, operating under the motto of “We drink what we can… and sell the rest!?

And they want to share that knowledge and passion with everyone else. Need a recommendation for tonight’s dinner? They’ll give you two or three options, often noting that the most expensive isn’t necessarily the best. Want to surprise or baffle a wine-snob acquaintance? How about a Hungarian Zold Veletini 2005? Want to learn as much as you can about the wines of Languedoc? They’ll put together a tasting case for you.

They mean what they say about selling only what they’ve tasted themselves. Each note card on the racks and cases throughout the small shop bears not the Robert Parker, Wine Spectator ratings, but handwritten notes on the staff’s thoughts about that particular wine. In addition to not selling wines they’ve personally tasted, they won’t sell wine whose quality they feel doesn’t justify the price.

City Wine strives to have great bottles of wine accessible even to those short on confidence and finances. Most of what the staff recommends is in the $12 to $16 range, although much more expensive bottles are also available.

One of their most popular items is the monthly mixed case, a collection of reds and whites offered at around $100 depending on the mix (including a 20 percent discount on the per-bottle pricing). A recent mixed case included a rich Rioja, a fruity Cabernet Sauvignon that was a great introduction to the Paso Robles region, an affordable Rhone red described as “a Chateauneuf du Pape wanna-be,? light whites from Australia and Italy, the aforementioned Hungarian white, a lemony Sauvignon Blanc and a white Cotes du Rhone.

The mixed cases also include an unnamed red and white picked by the staff that day, which the shop calls “a scary thought perhaps, but never dull.? These are not wines to be found on magazines’ “Best of? lists, but that’s the fun in finding great taste and great value together.

City Wine also has become a popular see-and-be-seen spot for tasting events. They offer several tastings a month, including free wine-only tastings in the store and pairings of wines and cheese or other foods for $35 in the shop’s adjacent tasting venue. Reservations are required for those sit-down pairings.

City Wine is located at 347 S. Colorado Boulevard, just south of the intersection with East Alameda Avenue and east of the Cherry Creek shopping district. Parking is available in front of and in back of the store. Visit City Wine at

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