Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name…
My cousin and I used to talk about how great it would be to have a spot like The Den on Moesha, here in Houston, where we could hang out regularly after work. Or, like Cheers, where it feels like home because of the welcoming atmosphere and camaraderie. Recently, that wish came true when I walked into UnWine, a wine bar located in Houston’s Third Ward area.
UnWine is the newest kid on the block in the Houston wine community. It’s been open since January and is currently in its soft opening phase.
I made my first visit to UnWine last month when my friend and I decided to stop by after a MFAH art event. I didn’t really have any expectations, which is rare, considering my expectation level is always on 100 for most things I encounter.
But, the fact that I’ve been back twice already should give some indication of how my first visit went. I have a lot to say about this place, so let’s get started.
- Ambiance: When you first walk into UnWine, you can’t help but notice it’s size. You can see the entire room from the doorway. Although it’s smaller than most wine bars in the city, the seating is set up in way that creates a cozy and intimate environment. I appreciated the different seating options available. You can sit at the bar and talk to the servers or sit on their comfy couches with a group of friends. There is also a long table in the back with bar stools, perfect for gatherings.
- The décor at UnWine is absolutely beautiful. Whoever designed the space was definitely on point! The neutral colors along with the wood-paneled wall add to the warmth in the room. I enjoyed the little design details, from the huge chalkboard on the wall with the daily specials neatly written to the menus with covers made out of cork. There’s a sophisticated elegance when you enter UnWine. You can’t help but feel at home. I guess it’s true what they say…good things do come in small packages.
- Crowd: To my surprise, the crowd at UnWine was in the 40 plus age range, with a couple of sprinkles of us 20-30 year olds. But, that didn’t really bother me. I probably won’t run into my future boo there, but hey, I love the fact that everyone appreciates good wine and is really welcoming. On the bright side, you don’t have to worry about some guy trying to push up on you with old tired lines. It’s not that type of party at UnWine anyways, which goes back to its overall ambiance. I love the fact that the crowd is super chill. It’s the perfect place to unwine (pun intended). I will add that UnWine has potential to draw in the young professional folks. It has an amazing rooftop, which it’s planning to open once warmer weather hits. While the downstairs area is a bit small, the rooftop is perfect for mixers and other social events that young professionals like to attend. The owners can thank me for that piece of advice with wine ;)
- Service: I’ve been pretty pleased with the service at UnWine. I have to give it up to the owners who go out of their way to greet each guest. They’re very personable, which is great. When you go to some of the bigger wine bars, it’s rare to see the owners out interacting with customers. So, when the owners actually struck up a conversation with us, it made me feel very welcomed. And I really love the fact that the owners know my name. It’s a cool feeling, which is one of the reasons why I call UnWine my Cheers. Like the owners, the wait staff is very attentive. However, I don’t think they’re as knowledgeable about the wine they’re serving as the servers at wine bars like 13 Celsius and Camerata. They can make recommendations, but I don’t think they really know the true history behind their wines. That’s not a total bad thing. I’m sure that will change as their team grows.
- Wine: UnWine offers a variety of wines from different regions, such as South Africa and Spain. Their wine selection is limited right now, but I believe they have plans to expand their menu. They have a pretty good chenic blanc/sauvignon blanc blend that I seem to be stuck on…lol. I also tried a really good chardonnay, but unfortunately, I’m drawing a blank on the name right now. Oh, and they have my Doolhof Cab, which you know I’m crazy about! So, they have some stand out offerings, but not enough (at the moment) to compete with the big dogs in the city.
- Food: I kind of hate to say this it, but…the food tops their wine selection. I could just go to UnWine to eat. The food is Al Green Love and Happiness three stomps good. They serve everything from meat and cheese plates to paninis and desserts. So, far I’ve tried the collard green and spinach dip, nawlins quesadilla, and veggie Panini….all were off the hook! Aside, from the taste, what makes the food stand out is the presentation. Chef Chase definitely put his foot into this menu.
So, I hope you can see why UnWine is the place I call my Cheers. As I mentioned in my Wine Bar 101 post, service is everything. Although, their wine menu isn’t complex, I know I can go their to relax and have a decent glass of wine. I feel at home when I’m there and that says a lot. So, if you’re in Houston stop by UnWine and tell them that Ty sent you. Enjoy and…