Hidden Gems of Tuscaloosa: Unlock your inner sommelier at Carpe VinoBy Caroline Giddis | 02/29/2016 7:45pm
Bold reds, sweet whites and specialty beer occupy the inviting atmosphere of Tuscaloosa's Carpe Vino. CW | Hanna Curlette
Bold reds, sweet whites and an inviting atmosphere: these are the characteristics of Tuscaloosa’s own Carpe Vino, a specialty wine and beer store. When you walk in, bright red couches invite you to grab a bottle off of a shelf and sit down, which is exactly what owner John McCulley wanted in opening the store.
“Nobody else was doing it,” McCulley said about the wine market in 2007. He noticed an opening and took the opportunity to show his passion for wine. One of the best features of Carpe Vino is the customer’s ability to hang out in the store with friends or learn more about wine from one of the knowledgeable employees.
“You can buy a glass or buy a bottle and open it,” McCulley said. “The advantage to buying the bottle is that you don’t have to drink it all. We can recork it so you can take it with you.”
The store has a wide range of prices from affordable $10 bottles to indulgent wines costing a few hundred dollars. Conveniently located in prime restaurant location on Greensboro Avenue downtown, Carpe Vino makes it easy to have a glass or two and then walk to dinner a block away. Many customers come in before or after they eat to enjoy their favorite wines because it’s cheaper than buying it in the restaurant.
The standout feature of Carpe Vino are the wine tastings held Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Customers can come in during those hours and try one ounce pours of six different types of wines for $10. If you decide to buy a bottle of wine from the tasting, you get $5 off your purchase.
“You can come with a group of friends, hang out for as long as it takes you, and then your whole tasting is only $5 if you buy a bottle.” said Brooke Foley, a senior exercise science major from San Luis Obispo, California, who has worked at the store for a year now.
“It’s a good deal,” Foley said. “We also have beer, so if you come in with friends or a boyfriend who doesn’t like wine, there’s always beer.”
The interior of Carpe Vino transports you to an Italian wine cellar, but the store’s variety of wines can transport you to all over the world.
“We have wines from Italy, Spain, America, Argentina, Canada,” Foley said. “We have wines from all over the place."