“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” — Ernest Hemingway”
“Either give me more wine or leave me alone.” — Rumi
From 6000 BC in the Caucasus region of Eurasia to this afternoon, down the street at your neighborhood quick-mart, wine has played an important role in the everyday lives of human beings for over eight thousand years — perhaps even longer depending on how you define it. There’s evidence that the Chinese fermented grapes mixed with rice even earlier than that!
We most likely owe the spread of wine-production practices to the ancient, seafaring Phoenicians who shipped it from the Mediterranean coast. Robert Ballard, famous for his exploration of the Titanic at the bottom of the sea, discovered a pair of Phoenician shipwrecks from 750 BC. Their sunken cargo was still safe and sound in the original containers. Can you imagine cracking open a bottle of that and drinking it now?
There are of course, many different types of wine to choose from. Red wine is made from dark-colored varieties of grapes ranging from violet to brown. White wine stems from the fermentation of un-pigmented grape pulps, usually green or yellow in coloring. Dry whites are produced from complete fermentation of the wort — the liquid that is procured from the mashing of the grapes. Sweet wines occur when the fermentation is interrupted before all of the sugars in the grapes have been transformed into alcohol. Sparkling white wine is created when the winemaker or vinter, as they’re called, chooses to not vent the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation. Other white wines are created through blending different varieties of grapes. A rosé wine is made by using a touch of pigmented grapes. Fruit wines eschew the grapes altogether and instead use apples, berries, or pears. Mead is formulated from the fermentation of honey with water. And don’t forget that Sake is technically wine as well!
No matter what your specific tastes, Hampton Roads contains a veritable smorgasbord of places from which to quench your thirst for the finer wines in life. Here’s a few of our favorite spots to pick up a bottle or two from!
Total Wine & More
536 West 21st Street, Norfolk
1600 Crossways Blvd, Chesapeake
Marketplace at Hilltop
1744 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach
12551 Jefferson Avenue, Newport News
Total Wine is a chain-based superstore with literally hundred of wines to choose from. They have locations in Ghent on 21st Street as well as in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Newport News. They’ll even deliver to your home or business via their smartphone app.
4500 Pretty Lake Ave Suite 104, Norfolk
A friendly, cozy location offering a diverse selection of over a hundred Artisanal wines, Crystal Palate offers both regular tastings as well as hosting for private events. They also provide classes to help you develop your palate.
Tinto Downtown Norfolk Wine and Cheese
999 Waterside Drive View, Suite 113, Norfolk
Hilltop Shopping Center
640 Hilltop West Shopping, Virginia Beach
236 Carmichael Way, Suite 308, Chesapeake
An intimate space that’s perfect for small gatherings in the lobby of Dominion Tower. They offer a Wine Club membership that allows you to try selections before purchase and gives discounts. They also serve lunch and dinner daily with tastings scheduled weekly.
Press 626 Wine Bar
626 W Olney Rd, Norfolk
Long on charm and Southern hospitality, Press 626 is a proponent of the “Slow Food” movement. It provides a small but tasteful menu including cheese and charcuterie plates with a well selected list of global wines. Check their calendar for their next seminar.
1907 Colonial Ave, Norfolk
While nominally a coffeeshop/bistro style cafe, Stella’s prides itself on a featured selection of wines from all over the world. They take care to choose from boutique wineries dedicated to creating exceptional wines not found in the average wine list or retail shelf. Cafe Stella is partnered with Vino Culture — a company that educates potential oenophiles, teaching them to develop their palates as sommeliers do.
3575 Bridge Rd suite 21, Suffolk
All the way out in Suffolk, these folks are known for a passion in searching out exactly the right wine for your palate. add wines and beers almost weekly. We work very closely with our vendors to find limited release and hard to find wines and beers. Looking for something particular? Let us help! We can survey our importers and suppliers to see if the product is available in our market area.
Palace Station Shops
330 W. 22nd Street, #106, Norfolk
4401 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach
With a flagship location in Ghent and a newer space now on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach, Mermaid Winery focuses on focus on producing small lots of wine using Virginia and California grapes. You can actually watch the wine getting made from their tasting bar while enjoying a selection from their menu of artisanal cheese platters, sandwiches, and entrees.
Grape & Gourmet
4000 Virginia Beach Blvd Suite 180, Virginia Beach
Located in Loehmann’s Plaza near the Virginia Beach Central Library, Grape and Gourmet stocks over a thousand varieties of wine. They offer weekly tastings on Fridays from 4:30 to 7 in the evening. They also provide a huge selection of craft beers from around the world (over 800 and counting) if that’s more your thing. The owners and staff are well known for being knowledgeable and friendly.