Ogun Art + Wine Grand Opening Recap

Hey wine friends! I know I’ve been M.I.A lately. Lo siento mucho!!! Still trying to get adjusted to my new work life. It’s been crazy busy, but I promise I’ll be back to my regular blogging routine soon.

Okay, so let me catch you up on my latest wine adventure. I was invited to the grand opening of a new wine bar called Ogun Art + Wine over the weekend. I was super excited to attend. You know wine and art are two of my all time favorite things! But unfortunately that’s where the excitement ends for me. The night ended up being an epic fail for the books.

Epic fail might be a little too harsh, but let’s just say I wasn’t pleased with my experience and here’s why…

Ty’s Takeaways…

Location: So, let me start with some background about the place. Ogun Art + Wine is located off of Washington Ave and Studemont in  a little shopping strip in Houston. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Absolve Wine Lounge, but Ogun is now in that space. I’m not sure what happened to Absolve and I can’t say that I was sad to hear that it was gone. Definitely wasn’t on my list of top wine bars in the city. However, having a wine bar in that location is a nice addition to the Washington Ave area.

Parking: Parking was horrible! Perhaps it was because of the grand opening event, but the lot was packed. They had $8 valet parking available and you know the only valet I recognize is complimentary! I drove around and around trying to figure out where I could park for FREE. There’s a Walgreen’s next door, but I didn’t want to take that risk and get towed. Luckily, there was additional parking behind the building for customers. Please don’t waste your money on valet if the lot is full. I repeat DO NOT pay for valet! Besides the valet attendants were parking cars in the regular lot. They didn’t have spaces marked off, which I thought was a rip off for the person paying. Doesn’t valet mean there is a particular spot sectioned off for your car? I dunno *side eye* But, if all else fails, there’s always street parking on the street behind the shopping center.

Space: The actual space is small, but cute. You’ll find a couple of options for outdoor seating. When you walk in there are several tables and then seating at the bar. Along the wall, you’ll see lots of African art. (Sorry…this is the all I know about this place. Nobody gave any background on the concept or anything. You’ll see keep reading…)

Customer Service: The place was packed when we arrived. There was nobody at the door to greet us. All of the tables were full, as well as the seating at the bar. It took us a while to figure out how to get a drink. There were no menus in sight. There were so many people, including the people who were sitting at the bar that it was hard to squeeze in. I’m an observer, so as I’m waiting to place my order at the bar, I see men in suits that appear to be the hosts, but they’re only greeting the people that they know. Hmmm…if this is a grand opening for the community, why not speak to the people who you don’t know? Introduce yourself, welcome your guests. I don’t understand how you have a grand opening and don’t go out of your way to make your guest feel welcomed (and at least tell them about the place).

After some patience, I finally made my way up to the bar. I noticed that there were only two servers working. Mind you there were probably 10 people sitting at the bar with groups of people standing behind them trying to place orders. So, as I’m waiting I realize that I don’t even know what I can order. There weren’t any menus out. When I finally got the server’s attention, I had to ask for a menu. My cousin was with my me (hey, girl, hey), so I gave her the menu and we figured out what we were going to order. But, by that time our server had moved on to someone else. I guess you snooze, you lose in these streets. We literally waited for almost 30 minutes trying to get the server’s attention, but she never looked up…never acknowledged us. I understand it was a busy night, but one you shouldn’t have only had two people working the bar and two the servers should have acknowledged the people waiting. Like “oh I got you next,” but their heads were down most the time. Anyways, we waited 30 minutes too long and between the bar service and lack of overall customer service in general, we decided it was time to roll.

Menu: I got a chance to briefly check out the menu. Their wine selection wasn’t that extensive. If I remember correctly, there were probably 8-10 whites. The red offering was a little longer and there were a handful of sparkling wines. If I’m wrong on the amounts, it’s because I was so irritated I couldn’t see straight. Anyways, I will say that I was impressed with the types of whites on their wine list. If my order had been taken, I would’v asked for the Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc. Yes, the same Sauv Blanc that I had at Cork in Dallas. I was so happy to see it on a Houston wine list. I guess I need to go back to Dallas to try it again though.

Overall, I was not happy with this event. I thought it was not well planned at all. And sad to say, I probably won’t go back to visit either. Great concept, but service is everything!! And on a night when you’re introducing your wine bar to the community, customer service should’ve been top of mind and it wasn’t. There are plenty of other wine bars in the city that go above and beyond to make their customers feel at home and sadly I just didn’t feel that at Ogun Art + Wine. I’ll take my wine money elsewhere.

Dallas Cork Wine Bar Review

Last weekend, I spent New Year’s in Dallas. I always make it a priority to do something wine-related whenever I travel. Prior to my trip, I researched different wine bars in the area and came across Cork Wine Bar. Its computerized touchscreen menus are what originally caught my attention. These days, majority of the wine bars out there are very cookie cutter and don’t really offer anything (outside of their wine selection) that is different from their competitors. I really hadn’t seen anything like Cork before and wanted to experience something out-of-the-box. Here’s the rundown about this unique Dallas wine bar.

Ty’s Takeaways…

  • Concept: So, Cork is part bar, part retail store. Patrons can drop by to hang out and order a glass of wine or simply come in and pick up a bottle (or two) to take home. Cork’s wine portfolio is amazing. They offer a diverse selection of old and new world wines. You can enjoy a glass of wine from one of 48 different wine options, which vary monthly OR visit their retail store, which features 350 wines…AND this is all located in one place. One of the coolest offerings at Cork are its wine stations. There are six stations that feature eight different wines. For example, there’s the “Big, Bold” and then “Sweet, Crisp” stations. There’s wine available for every single palate! Once you select your wine, it’s served from one of those fancy Enomatic Wine Dispensing Machines. Everything about Cork is hip and modern!
  • Location: The bar is located in the Uptown area of Dallas. It’s a very trendy neighborhood with lots of retail stores and restaurants.
  • Ambiance: The ambiance at Cork is so chill. You really get this intimate feeling when you’re inside. It wasn’t too loud and it wasn’t too quiet. The mood in the room was just right, whether you’re coming on a date or just hanging out with friends. I went on a Friday evening and the place was pretty busy. You can grab a seat at one of their high or low tables. There’s also a nice, couch for lounging. In the back, you’ll find another more secluded seating area to enjoy your wine. That space can be used to host private events as well.
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  • Service: We had the best service! The staff at Cork was so helpful and accommodating. They were extremely knowledgeable about their wine portfolio (which is important to me) and overall just down right friendly.
  • Price: Cork Wine Bar is not cheap! But, I can appreciate the fact that they offer different pour options at different price levels. A six ounce pour (which is a full glass) can range anywhere from $8-15. While a sample taste, which is a one ounce pour, can range from $1.50-$7.25, depending on the type of wine. This gives you the opportunity to try multiple wines at a lower price, which is cool. I was able to sample several wines before I decided on my full glass. Oh, and they also offer flights of three wines, which range in price $14-28.
  • Food: Cork has a food menu that features items such as hummus, charcuterie trays, and even desserts to nibble on while you enjoy your wine. However, I was very surprised to find out that Cork allows its guests to order food from the neighboring restaurants. They have tons of menus on hand for you to choose from. You can place your order over the phone and the restaurant will call you when it’s ready for pick up and some even deliver! We ended up ordering Grimaldi’s, which was  SO good with our wine!!
  • YGOM Favorites: I had two favorite wines, which I need to see if I can order online soon. The Domaine Guillaman (left) is a white blend that tastes like a Sauvignon Blanc, but is more fruit forward. And then I really liked the Mt. Beautiful (right), which is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but not as grassy in flavor as a traditional Marlborough Sauv Blanc. Instead you get more tropical fruit flavors that are very refreshing.

Cork Wine Bar is a real Dallas treat! It was the perfect wine experience. I wish we had a wine bar like that here in Houston. If you live in Dallas or plan to visit soon, definitely stop by!

Shake Shack Wine Review

Last week while Houston was all a buzz about finally getting a Shake Shack (womp, womp, womp), I was more like…

#yawn

I can’t tell you how many photos of burgers and crinkled french fries were flooding my timeline from people who were oh so excited about Houston finally getting a spot here. You would’ve thought In & Out was coming to town (says the California girl with a smirk). I haven’t eaten beef since ’89 (ok, more like ’04), so places like this really don’t amuse me, BUT that was until I saw an IG post with someone holding a purdy little stemless glass of wine over one of those burgers.

I immediately went to the Shake Shack website and was pleasantly surprised to discover that this fast food joint offered its own house wines.

Now, you’re talkin’ my language!

So wine friends, you know I had to stop by (and brave the long lines) all in the name of WINE!

Ty’s Takeaways…

I stopped by Shake Shack after I voted yesterday evening. I was really excited to try their house wines. According to their website, the chain offers its own house red and white (made exclusively for Shake Shack by Napa Valley’s Frog’s Leap Winery). Pretty cool, so I thought. I went in thinking that’s what I was going to find at the Houston location, but that wasn’t the case. Instead these were the wine offerings listed on the menu:

  • Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, The Federalist, Lodi, CA ($8.89/a glass)
  • White: Sauvignon Blanc, SIMI Winery, Sonoma County, CA ($7.89/a glass)
  • By the Half Bottle: Prosecco, Mionetto, Valdobbiadene, Italy (Price not listed)

If I’m honest, I was a bit taken back by the price. $8/9 for a glass of wine from Shake Shack?!?

But, why?

House wine is normally like $5 because it’s the HOUSE WINE…lol. Even though the wine selection and prices were different than I expected, I still decided to give the wine a try. I opted for the Sauvignon Blanc…of course.

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The Cab and Sauv Blanc are served on tap.

I was handed one of those little buzzards and patiently waited for my glass of wine. When my buzzard went off a couple minutes later, I received this…

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#yawn

Cute branded stemless glass with probably a 3 ounce pour, which I paid $8.58.

Just dandy...

Just dandy…

So, the Sauv Blanc wasn’t bad. It was very fruit forward with tropical fruit aromas and flavors. I tasted a mix of pineapple, peach, and green apple. I enjoyed the crisp and refreshing taste, plus the wine had a nice tart finish.

Now the million dollar question…would I go back to Shake Shack for wine?? Absolutely not! Definitely not worth it! I understand it’s a burger joint, but I was hoping there was a silver lining with it’s “exclusive” house wine offerings. They should note on their website that the Shake Shack house wine from Frog’s Leap is not offered at every location, but whateves. No matter how good the wine is, I just don’t see myself paying that much for so little wine again. Believe me, I completely get that Shake Shack is not a wine bar, BUT for those exact reasons it should come down on its wine prices and give a little lot more love on the pours…por favor!

Anyways, when I finished my wine, I realized the glass was plastic…and came to the conclusion that Shake Shack was giving the glasses away as a souvenir…or at least I made it one and kindly took it home with me. At least now, I felt like I got my money’s worth…lol. (P.S. I asked the server who said it was okay, so no theft on my part!)

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I went to Shake Shack and all I got was this stemless wine glass…

Any Shake Shack fans? Have you tried their wine? Let me know your thoughts.

Whole Foods Bar

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I’m always looking for new places to enjoy wine. More and more, I’m discovering that you don’t have to go some fancy shmancy wine bar to have good wine! Recently, a friend pointed out that Whole Foods has an amazing bar with great wine deals, so you know I had to check it our for myself.

Ty’s Takeaways…

The sip and shop experience just keeps getting better and better. Earlier this summer, I blogged about Kroger’s Cork & Tap. That was my first taste at what an in-store wine bar could offer. That was until I visited the Whole Foods Bar in Montrose. The bar in Wholes Foods is on another level and even puts some of the local happy hours in the neighborhood to shame! Here’s why:

  • Wine List: The Whole Foods Bar wine list is more extensive than Cork & Tap’s. It includes over 20 red, white, and sparkling wines. The menu often has a theme that changes weekly. During my visit, wines from Chile were featured on the menu. Another plus–if you don’t like any of the suggested wines on the menu, you can pick a bottle off the shelf and ask the bar to serve it instead.

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  • Prices: The prices are very reasonable!! A standard glass of wine ranges from $4 to $15.
  • Big Pours: So, I haven’t been to a place in a while where the pours were so generous. It almost brought me to tears!
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Almost to the brim!!

  • Good Deals: You definitely get your money’s worth between the prices and the pours. To up the ante, the Whole Foods Bar offers flights of wines as well. You can choose any three wines off the menu for $10. I love that the flights are not preassigned! That makes it more fun. The bar also $5 mimosas–great for some morning shopping!
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Vinho Verde, Rosè, Sauvignon Blanc

  • No Limit: One of the biggest perks about the bar at Whole Foods is that you can walk around and shop with your wine. At Kroger, you’re limited to two drinks and must sit in the bar area. Plus, there is not limit to the number of glasses you can purchase.
  • Food: I love that at Whole Foods you can purchase food at the store and eat it in the bar area. While at Cork & Tap, the bar offers complimentary cheese cubes. Not as appealing as ordering a slice of pizza to eat with your wine.

I seriously think that Whole Food’s bar could go head-to-head with some of the wine bars in the city!! Great prices and even better pours.

This is seriously how they pour ;)

I’m not a big Whole Foods shopper, but I’d gladly stop by any day after work for a glass of wine! In fact, I can’t wait to go back. You may see me there this weekend!

 

Cabo Wine Adventure

Sadly, I’m back from my week-long vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico. I’m so grateful for my time away! Los Cabos is a must-visit place in Mexico, especially if you’re looking for some R&R.

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Aside from hanging out at the pool, I was really hoping to find some real authentic Mexican wine on my trip. Many people aren’t aware of this, but Mexico is becoming a serious player in the winemaking game. Most vineyards are located in the northern Baja countryside. You’d be surprised to know that the art of winemaking in Mexico dates back to the time of the Spanish conquest, with the oldest winery in all of the Americas, Casa Madera, located in Coahuila state (1597). However, when you think of a “traditional” Mexican beverage, it normally consists of tequila mixed with something tropical. No wonder, I received blank stares when I asked about wine…lol.

The face people make when you ask for wine in Mexico.

The face people make when you ask for wine in Mexico.

I can’t tell you how many times, I received this look when I turned down tequila and requested wine instead. You would’ve thought I had a third eye or something. Surprisingly, we were able to find some cool places that served wine. Check out my Cabo wine experience below.

Ty’s Takeaways…

As I mentioned, we stayed in Los Cabos, which is a quieter town. Most people are familiar with Cabo San Lucas, which is about 25 minutes west of Los Cabos along the Baja Coast. Cabo San Lucas is a tourist city known for its beaches and of course its nightlife. We decided to venture into Cabo one evening for dinner and to check out some of the clubs. As we walked around, we stumbled across a wine bar. It was like seeing a mirage in the middle of the desert.

Pan Di Bacco

Pan Di Bacco is an Italian restaurant and wine bar in Cabo San Lucas. Lol…what are the chances of finding authentic Italian food in the heart of Cabo?! A little random, but I was excited to try some wine!

Let me start off by saying, that Pan Di Bacco is an urban oasis! You forget that you’re in Mexico once you step foot inside. The decor is very modern and upscale. It reminded me of back home. The wine menu consists of red, white, and sparkling wines from mostly Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. Select wines are sold by the glass (prices range from $4USD-$8USD), while most wines are sold by the bottle (prices range from $30USD-$91USD). Pan Di Bacco. Unfortunately, we didn’t get try one of their sparkling wines from Mexico (they were out), but were able to taste a sparkling wine from Argentina, which was delicious. Our experience at Pan Di Bacco was so great! I definitely recommend stopping by if you’re ever in town.

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Casa Don Rodrigo 

On our last night, we ended up at Casa Don Rodrigo in San Jose Del Casa, which is 20 minutes east of Los Cabos. Don Rodrigo is located in the plaza downtown. We were told that this place had some great authentic Mexican food, but to my surprise it also had a great wine collection as well. I loved the art decor throughout the restaurant and even got to check out their wine cellar! And best of all…was finally able to test a couple of wines from the Baja coast! My trip was finally complete :)

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Now that I’ve had a sip of the Baja Coast wine life, I can’t wait to plan some more trips and visit an actual vineyard. Until my next adventure…