Cellar Rat Wine

Why write about a wine shop on a website dedicated to food? Because good wine elevates good food, and good food makes good wine taste better. I love wine, but I love wine & food more. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

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Located at 17th & Baltimore in the heart of the Crossroads Art District, the staff at Cellar Rat Wine Merchants are as passionate about wine as I am about making good food. As a result, I’ve become a whole lot more passionate (and adventurous) about wine and wine pairings.  Because of the staff’s knowledge, enthusiasm, and encouragement, this self professed Red Wine Only drinker has come to love the full gamut of flavors- from the lightest white, to a deep salmon rosé, to a hit you on the head Cabernet. I’ve come to appreciate the passion, commitment, and time it takes to grow and bottle good wine- in the same way it takes those qualities to perfect Boeuf Bourguignon or a souffle.

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Cellar Rat Wine is about quality and passion. But don’t think that means you’ll be priced out of the market. The vast majority of the wines they carry are between $10-25 a bottle- because good wine is meant to be consumed. There’s a great selection of higher end bottles for special occasions or for cellaring. With weekly tastings, wine of the week deals, wine classes, and a monthly mix & match $100 case offering (yes you read that right- high quality, delicious wines for for less than $9 bucks a bottle!) Cellar Rat has something to offer everyone. They’re just as thrilled to see beginning tasters as they are enthusiasts, so if you’ve ever been curious about wine tasting or wine pairing stop on by.

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Cellar Rat sits in the shadow of the world renowned Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

We also think that Cellar Rat Wine is the best place for a Friday night date. Why? You can purchase a bottle of wine and they’ll open it right there for you to enjoy. Feeling like a splurge? Order a cheese and charcuterie plate. There’s plenty of room to sit and enjoy a bite and a glass. (They also have a small selection of wines by the glass if you don’t want a bottle- or they can seal up your bottle and you can take it home!)

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They are very gluten free aware and carry a nice selection of gluten free crackers- likely more than your local grocery store! If you let them know when you order your cheese plate, they’ll happily provide you with gluten free crackers instead of the bread that typically accompanies the cheese plates. Local artists are featured on the walls in ever-changing displays, and a lovely back room provides additional space for tasting classes and private parties.

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Cellar Rat Wine carries more than just wine- they offer an excellent selection of cheeses & charcuterie, snobby chocolates, bitters, beers, liquors and sakes- many of them created by small batch or local producers like the ones shown in the photo below. Row Hard Root Beer is gluten free, locally brewed, and contains a little over 6% alcohol. It’s the best root beer I’ve ever tried, and they are not joking when they claim it makes the best root beer floats. Do be careful though- you can’t really taste the alcohol.

A new favorite
A new favorite

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t brag about their Monthly Wine Clubs- which you can read about here. Wine Club memberships include a tasting class and other special bonuses. I have found kindred spirits in tasting and life adventures inside these walls, and encourage you if you’re in the neighborhood to stop by and get to know some incredible human beings and fellow taste adventurers.

A Gluten Free Dinner Party Menu

Pan Seared ScallopsWe had some friends over for dinner the other night. Normally when I host an intimate gathering I get out the fancy dishes and I spend all day in the kitchen concocting. But these days, with our mile-a-minute life, I just don’t have the time. I wanted to put together something elegant and flavorful, that wouldn’t take me hours of prep time.

I grabbed dessert from our neighborhood chocolaterie- Annedore’s. Sadly for my waistline Annedore’s is within walking distance of our house, and over the last year we’ve become regulars. Happily for my tastebuds, I love everything they make! I am absolutely not ashamed to buy dessert- especially from an artisan.

As for dinner? For the first time ever, my prep time took less than an hour. And dinner came together very quickly once our guests arrived. It was great to enjoy our guests as well as the food, and I will definitely be pulling these recipes out again the next time we have company- in about 3 weeks! Below is our dinner party menu, complete w/ paired wines.

Aperitif: Goat Brie, cured olives, and marcona almonds. Wine: Andre Delorme Brut 100% Chardonnay- sparkling reserve

1st: Pan Seared Scallops in brown butter with Orange Hollandaise w/ vanilla & rosemary. Served with roasted asparagus and garnished with truffle salt. Wine: 2011 Domaine Talmard Macon-Chardonnay, unoaked.

2nd: Argula tossed with mustard tarragon vinaigrette, served with chopped apples & bacon. Lemon zest. Wine: 2011 M. Chapoutier “Belleruche”. Cotes-du-Rhone.

Dessert: Annedore’s Fine Chocolate– dark chocolate covered strawberries and dark chocolate Imperial Truffles Wine: Ramos Pinto Quinta de Ervamoira 10-Year-Old Tawny Port

The wines can be found locally at my favorite wine store- Cellar Rat Wine Merchants. I love being able to take my recipe ideas in and get great wine recommendations. Excellently paired wine and food elevates even the simplest of meals. And if you’ve never taken a recipe in to a wine shop and asked for a pairing recommendation, I suggest you do so- next meal! Any wine-person worth their salt will hook you up with something delicious. If they can’t- find a new shop!

What are your favorite go-to recipes when throwing a dinner party? Pork loin? Pasta? Grilling in the summer? Post your favorites in the comment section, and don’t be afraid to try something new!