Best Wine Store - 2012
The Wine Thief
Could St. Paul be edging into hipsterdom? If the town of a-beer-and-a-bump is creeping toward cool, the Wine Thief is carrying the torch. Tucked into a tiny bit of food-and-wine heaven (Scusi and the Groveland Tap are each a bottle toss away), the Wine Thief has taken an approach to wine-selling that presumes people want to drink wines that taste good and bypass having to learn about appellations and varietals and terroir first. Wines are organized into categories: "Spicy," "Bold," "Harmonious," "Crisp," "Fruity," "Sweet," "Fizzy," and "Sake." Within those designations is a wide selection of wines, and a well-educated staff can help you define your flavor preferences, interpret the labels, and recommend food pairings. Although the store selects its wine with an insistence on quality, it also keeps an eye on price. There's almost always something to taste and somebody to chat with, maybe about wine or maybe about the playlist on the Current. The Friday and Saturday wine tastings feel like a wonderful jumble of a party, sort of like Wine Thief's website, where barking dogs, a Vespa-driving career gal, inept criminals, running police, and other bells and whistles can help while away a fanciful hour. Still want that beer to go with your bump? Try next door at the Jail Ale: same playful theme, same philosophy, same ownership.