“House” is Home to Great Wine in Worthington

Written by on April 16, 2012 in Bars, Wine, Worthington - No comments

Sampling a one-ounce pour.

My husband and I grabbed the last spot in the Worthington parking lot at High and E. New England streets, and realized the last time we had entered 644 High Street it was a Once Upon A Child, and we were buying a stroller for our toddler. Now our son is 11, and the business in that locale has a decidedly more adult appeal.

House Wine, the four-year-old venture of Donnie Austin, has become a must-drink stop on the Columbus wine trail, by virtue of its welcoming atmosphere, a robust and varied selection of vino, and the enomatic.

What the hell is an enomatic? Well, the best way to describe it is a vending machine for wine (made in Italy so it clearly has wine in its atoms). Donnie says it makes his shop like the Dave & Busters of wine. You get a vending card and insert it into the reader on a 10-foot long metal contraption¬†that holds 24 bottles of wines, ranging from the “here’s-one-for-$10-we-can-drink-now” to the “oh-my-god-I-would-spend-$150-for-this” varieties. Hold up your glass, pick a pour of one, two or three ounces, and out comes the nectar of the gods. The amount you pay depends on the quality and quantity you select, from $1.50 up to about $7.50 per ounce.

I would have had a blast at House Wines just playing with the enomatic, but the Worthington bar offers so much more.

We went on a Thursday night, which is when Donnie offers $15 tastings of four or five different wines that fall under a similar umbrella, with cheese and crackers thrown in. Our week, for example, was Sonoma Valley, where we sipped our way through the grapefruit and pears of a 2009 MacRostie Chardonnay, the apples and French oak of the ’09 Rodney Strong Chardonnay. Black cherry and chocolate flavors bursting through the 2007 Artesa Elements Cab and, my favorite, the full body, soft tannins and black cherries of the Ridge Three Valley from 2009.

Donnie

Donnie also threw in a surprising and, for me, most welcoming addition of Domain Chandon’s Blanc de Noir. It was surprising since this was a sparkling wine in the champagne style that comes not from Sonoma, from rather a Napa Valley winery, and welcoming because I spent two years working there part-time in the publicity department. I had, in my estimation, opened about 2,000 bottles of that wine in all the tasting events I staffed.

There is nothing like a taste of home, and that is one of House Wine’s greatest appeals. Visiting Donnie is like hanging out with an old friend, and he has set out a plethora of tables for people to just grab a bottle and (for a $5 corkage fee) hang out. He’ll even order you a pie from Pizza Primo for delivery right to one of the House Wine wood tables for the most fun of food and wine pairings. The tastings brought in singles looking to sample and share conversation, couples on dates, friends seeking celebration or relaxation, even families with babies who just wanted a night out of the house.

The place was hopping, but it was like we’d all been invited to just hang out at Donnie’s house. In truth, I guess that’s what we were doing.

About the Author

Nicole may have left her Napa Valley roots behind when she came to east and became an Ohio State journalism professor, but she manages to keep her glass full in Columbus' terrific wine bar scene. She writes for Columbus Monthly, (614), the Ohio State Alumni Magazine among many other publications across North America, and can open bottles of sparkling wine with barely a whisper to make sure those fabulous bubbles go in the glass. She also blogs at www.kraftofwriting.com

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