A Grape Time

A Grape Time

By Eric Newman

Uncorked Wine Lounge & Eatery celebrates the wide world of wine

For Ali Amundson, wine comes first.

The owner of Uncorked Wine Lounge & Eatery appreciates the endless array of vino varietals available globally, many of which are served in her establishment.

“I’ve been in the restaurant and bar business my whole life, and my passion is wine. I love that you can drink wine your whole life and only get to the tip of the iceberg of what’s available out there,” she says.

That proverbial tip of the iceberg looks like a dark and cozy European tavern at Uncorked, with plentiful seating including couches and armchairs, whimsical chandeliers and interesting artwork. The wine lounge and eatery offers a variety of different food and drink options, as well as happy hour Monday through Thursday and Saturdays.

In addition to the food menu, there are usually 40 to 50 different wine selections available by the glass, as well as around 25 sold by the bottle, to pair with a delicious meal or to be consumed in a flight.

However, unlike in some wine bars, the food selection is not limited to just a few side dishes. There is a full menu and a bevy of beer selections, as well. In addition to traditional wine-paired dishes – like a cheese tray with hard salami, bread, olives, fruit, nuts and a selection of fine fromage; and a flatbread with spinach, garlic, tomatoes, artichokes and Parmesan  – there are plenty of hearty, high-quality meals, including duck nachos on sweet potato chips with brie, white bean puree, sundried tomato, shallots and scallions; and local favorite lamb meatballs stuffed with goat cheese and a spicy tomato sauce drizzle.

“Our food is all made from scratch, just unique dishes or things that pair well with wine. So there’s a lot of cheese and savory dishes that you’d normally find paired with wine, but also plenty of other options that you don’t normally find anywhere else around here,” Amundson says.

“You know, some people read novels, or read the news, or read whatever else. I try to get my hands on as many food and wine magazines as possible, to keep getting new ideas for the menu, or for wine pairing options,” she continues. “It’s just something I love, and I don’t think I’ll ever not love it.”

Happy hour runs from 3:30 p.m. until close Mondays through Thursdays, and from noon to close on Saturdays. On Mondays, Uncorked offers half-price wine flights and glasses of wine. Uncorked recently began a “Taco Tuesday” happy hour, with high-quality tequila and homemade tacos that “you wouldn’t find in just a regular Mexican restaurant,” Amundson says.

Happy hour on Wednesday brings $5 off cheese trays and wine bottles, while “Draft Thursday” deals focus on beer ($3.50 off on all draft brews). “Sparkling Saturdays” happy hour features half-price glasses of sparkling wine. The point is to offer a variety of options, even for those who may not like wine. However, if Amundson has any say, one visit into Uncorked, and a customer will leave with a newfound appreciation for wine.

“I love getting people to try new wine, and I know that if somebody doesn’t like it, I can find them one they will enjoy. We have new selections all the time. We have a lot of regulars and they always want something new, and they’re asking for something different,” she says.

“I concentrate a lot on the boutique wines and smaller production lines, and deal with about 10 different purveyors, usually locals,” Amundson adds. “So customers get to try different things and it’s stuff that’s from the community.” 