|All photos by my lovely wife, Sarah Scott. To see more, visit frothandaperture.blogspot.com|
At first glance, five points in East Nashville seems like a funny mix of unique and typical, with a specialty bike store on one corner and a standard bar on the other, a gas station on another corner and a local pizza joint right next to a Family Dollar. And across from that Family Dollar is another funny mixture of form and function: Woodland Wine Merchant, located in what looks like it could have at one point been a local post office, a standalone brick building with glass windows on front and parking in the back. Fortunately, what they offer is itself a mixture of things that work very well: wines, spirits, and beer from all over the world, including many from right here in Tennessee.
Wine and liquor stores are one of those types of establishments that really only has to do one thing: sell wine and liquor, and other various spirit-related goods. But there's a trend in new, up-and-coming wine stores (I'll continue to refer to them as such, as wine is the big draw in most new, trendy stores of this kind). They feel like they have to stand out with unique interiors, usually opting to go either ultra modern and minimalistic, or to surround the alcohol with rustic elements like wood grain and tarnished metal. Woodland Wine Merchant does something very interesting by meshing those two styles very well, all in a wide open space that somehow manages to feel cozy despite the high ceiling and chest-level shelves.
Perhaps it's the darkly painted walls and rich, smooth, wooden shelves, the modern elements that give the store a sophisticated feel without requiring a jacket at the door. Or maybe it's the chalkboard specials sign behind the counter and the tiny clipboards with hand-written information below select items placed throughout the aisles, touches that feel homey, personal, and rustic. Likely, it's the choreographed combination of these elements that makes this a great store, along with a knowledgable, young, friendly staff who seem more than happy to help locate a particular style of red wine, or offer suggestions on the best local whiskey. It doesn't hurt that every time we've been inside there were several people already there, some getting advice from an employee, a show of success and pride that make it seem like a place you should want to go to. They know what they're doing, and they've set up a space that helps showcase that ability.
What really brought us there was the fact that this week is craft beer week in Nashville, a festival (of sorts) that we can currently only celebrate cheaply. So, the cheapest and most communal way to throw ourselves into the celebration is to attend free tastings, which Woodland Wine Merchant has been doing and will continue to do all week, with select craft brews offering a taste of a few of their finest options. Tuesday included sour beers, our favorite being the Petrus Aged Red from Belgium; and yesterday we got to try some pale ales from Brooklyn Brewery, with the Local 2 winning our appreciation. While we might not attend tonight or tomorrow night because of other obligations, anyone in the area who wants a free, informative, and insightful way to celebrate craft beer week and learn a little bit about what makes craft beer so special should stop by Woodland Wine Merchant between 5pm and 7pm. Get a beer, meet some people, and learn some stuff -- I can't think of a better (free) way to celebrate.