Less fussy, more fun 

Though it never really was completely true, for years Americans thought of wine enthusiasts as people who haunted restaurants with tons of mahogany and a vast, dim cellar filled with rare wines that often breached $100. That's never been less true than today, when wine-oriented bars and restaurants shoot for a selection that's more accessible, less intimidating, definitely not fussy, and much more fun. Instead of a leather-bound volume with pages of wines, expect shorter, more concise lists, creatively organized to please the oenophile and the newbie alike. And, as wine best complements a meal, most servers at good restaurants can competently suggest pairings with your food, given your preferences. Similarly, it's not all "upselling" when the servers suggest the small plates at the wine bar: To get the full experience, nothing complements wine like a taste. (Although we think a buttery, oaky Chard can go down swimmingly with a cigarette.) But the emphasis on enjoying wine with a meal is well-taken. Because of its association with the table, wine enjoys an informal reputation as the most family-friendly alcoholic beverage, and it's no coincidence that wine-oriented events can include family trips, right down to letting junior romp in the grape-crushing bin.

In the interest of easing you into the subject, we here present a list of wine-oriented eateries, wine bars, retailers and a suggested vintage or two.

Wine and Dine

Crust Pizza & Wine Bar
2595 Rochester Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-844-8899; 6622 Telegraph Rd., Ste. A, Bloomfield Township; 248-855-5855

Enotecca Campo Marzio
660 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-784-9783

115 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-327-2312

Nectars Wine Bar
4135 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-851-7777

Positive Vibrations Wine Bar
3651 S. Baldwin Rd., Lake Orion; 248-393-4337

1128 Washington Blvd, Detroit; 313-961-2500

(inside Beans & Cornbread) 29508 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield; 248-208-1680

110 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-222-9841

417 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-544-6256

Zinc Brasserie & Wine Bar
6745 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-865-0500

Selected beverage retailers

Cloverleaf Fine Wine
711 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-399-7166

Cost Plus Eastern Market Wine
2448 Market St., Detroit; 313-259-3845

Elie Wine Company
405 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-398-0030

Everyday Wine
407 N. Fifth Ave., First Floor, Ann Arbor; 734-827-WINE

Gibbs World Wide Wines
22341 Moross Rd., Grosse Pointe Farms; 313-886-0670

Holiday Market
1203 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-1414

Holiday Market
520 S. Lilley Rd., Canton; 734-844-2200

Merchant's Fine Wine
22250 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-563-8700

Village Corner
601 S. Forest St., Ann Arbor; 734-995-1818

Western Market Ferndale
447 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-546-7288

Like Riesling?

If you've never 'Riesled,' it's worth a taste


As one wine retailer noted, people have a hard time getting customers to respond to Michigan wines. Though it can be a challenge to find a local vintage worth choosing first, wines made from Riesling (or similar Gewürztraminer) grapes in Michigan's Leelenau Peninsula are worth a second look. The light, sandy soil and temperate breezes from nearby Lake Michigan can produce excellent crops. The tiny Chateau Fontaine Vineyards & Winery has a good Gewürztraminer, as does Peninsula Cellars, with a clear, drinkable Riesling to boot. But if you want to keep your Riesling in the cellar for a few years to let it sweeten up in the bottle, one adviser recommends getting a late-harvest Riesling for the higher sugar content. Both Black Star Farms and Chateau Grand Traverse offer Rieslings with this distinction on the label.

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