By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
When Mark Teahen left Major League Baseball during Spring Training of 2014, he and his wife, Lauren, took a trip to Italy to consider the sport in the European country.
“We heard from a friend in Italy that you don’t make money, but it would be a way for us to see Italy and not go broke doing it,” he says. “We thought it would be a fun way to put a cap on my playing career.”
Instead, they fell further in love with wine after stumbling upon Enoteca Falorni, a wine bar in Chianti that once housed the first major winery in the region.
“I fell in love with the culture,” he says. “The team offered a contract, but I decided I was kind of burned out. If I’m not going to be playing for a big-league job in the United States, I figured I would take some time off.”
The most interesting to the Teahens: Enomatic wine dispensing systems. Each bottle was attached to a tap that dispensed the wine, delivering the quality equivalent to a newly opened bottle for up to four weeks. They regulated the temperature as well as the quantity by offering a full pour, a taste, or what the Italian word “sorso” means—a sip.
At Enoteca Falorni, there were 100-plus wines available to taste, organized in 13 different sections by region or type of wine.
“It was self-serve, what I like to call a ‘wine buffet,’” he says. “We purchased a card for the dollar amount we wanted, grabbed a glass and started tasting.”
Lauren adds, “It was really a unique and fun experience.”
The Teahens wanted to bring this idea to the United States, but they didn’t know the first thing about running a wine bar. So, the couple literally googled business plan.
“We substituted in what might work for a wine bar,” Mark says. “We went to the (Scottsdale) Quarter and a few other locations. We weren’t married to doing it, but we found a good location at the Quarter. We took a chance on the idea.”
Sorso Wine Room at the Scottsdale Quarter is a labor of love for the Teahens, who visit the wine bar daily. Lauren worked with the architects to create the look and feel that she and Mark wanted.
The menu evolved as they learned about wines, as has the food. Initially, the Teahens were just going to offer charcuterie boards.
The menu offers shareables like shishito peppers ($11), house citrus-marinated olives ($7) and Mediterranean nachos ($12/$16) with mozzarella, feta, basil pesto, sun dried tomato pesto, tomatoes and kalamata olives on lavash chips.
Bruschetta is, indeed, on the menu ($10 to $22) with roast beef, burrata, prosciutto de parma, salami, serrano ham, smoked salmon, mozzarella, olive tapenade, hummus, tomato, sun-dried tomato pesto, green apple, gorgonzola, mixed berries, strawberry and a rotating selection.
Salads are served ($12 to $15), and 11 “sandos” or sandwiches. The TAPP is shaved turkey breast, brie, fig jam and arugula ($14), salmon PLT ($15) with smoked salmon, pancetta, avocado, sliced tomato and mixed greens in a lemon vinaigrette.
Flatbreads wrap the menu ranging from “the usual” to “il mare” with olive oil, lump crab meat, asparagus, sliced tomato, mozzarella and lemon zest ($12 to $15).
“People still come in for the bruschetta,” he says. “‘The Dip’ does well. It’s a collection of goodness and cheese.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been slightly challenging for Sorso, which is 6 years old.
“We turned it into a grocery store,” he says. “We had grocery store kits and stuff like that. People were extremely gracious with our tips. We’ve built a really nice community who come in and enjoy Sorso as usual. People like the atmosphere and the food.
“But it’s been an extremely tough year for everyone We made it through that first shutdown. Our staff has done a great job. We’re doing everything we can do to stay open. We’ve tried to be creative with our staff. None of these rules and mandates are their idea.”
Sorso Wine Room
At the Scottsdale Quarter
15323 N. Scottsdale Road,
Suite 150, Scottsdale