Tucked away in the corner of the Westwood Shopping Center in Magnolia isGenuWine, a wine tasting room offering some 250 different wines (on average) to enjoy by either the glass or the bottle. But GenuWine is more than just a wine bar; at the helm of the kitchen you can find their well-kept secret Kacy – an accidental chef who recently introduced his own version of the widely known stuffed mushroom.
We stopped in for a late lunch/early dinner in between clients the other day and sampled a variety of refreshingly simple dishes from Kacy’s kitchen. After placing our order, we relaxed and took in the cozy, relaxing atmosphere of GenuWine, while also enjoying a little shopping. Because on top of being a Wine Tasting Room and Bistro, GenuWine is also a wine store and casual gift shop! A variety of wine-related gifts, everything from witty cocktail napkins to unique wine glasses, classy t-shirts to eclectic décor, and of course, wines of all sorts, are available at GenuWine.
Kacy was discovered quite randomly by Rhonda, one of GenuWine’s owners, while he stood outside GenuWine holding a sign to advertise another establishment there in the Westwood Shopping Center. Starting out simply helping in the kitchen, he quickly began offering ideas and input to the menu which are becoming quite popular. Now heading the kitchen team, his current crowning achievement is the newly added Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. Kacy doesn’t want to give away all his secrets, but these delightfully sautéed (not fried) mushrooms are stuffed with black and white balsamic vinaigrette, garlic, spinach, prosciutto and parmesan.
Of course, I’m more of the wine drinker, too, and was eager to come in to GenuWine for a wine tasting. The day we were in, we sampled Mont Paral Cava, a fruity sparking brut that reminded me of green apples and white grapes. Next up was my favorite of the day, Las Lilas Vinho Verde Rose – It’s fresh and quenching the way a Vinho Verde was intended to be, but offers exciting flavors of strawberry soda, watermelon, and fizzy sweet tarts. Plus I love it’s electric pink color. Our third tasting was the 20 Barrels Chardonnay; a Chilean white that sounded better in its description than I found it to be. My favorite red of the day was the Cuvee A Pinot Noir. It was garnet in color, and had aromas of spices, fresh black raspberries and hints of toasty oak. I liked the cranberry and black cherry flavor which was highlighted with a hint of cinnamon. Immediately after the Pinot Noir was The Chocolate Block, my first (and probably last) South African wine. Mia cautioned us when pouring this bold red that many of the South African wines tend to be dense in flavor and not something she cared for personally; but more of an acquired taste. And for those who do love it, this one tends to be their favorites. Alas, it wasn’t mine (or his) – I gave up after the first sip. Our final sample was the Barr Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; if a Cab is your red preference, this versatile selection could be just what you’re looking for. It was what I would call a nice “middle of the road” Cabernet Sauvignon – not too heavy, not too sweet and pairs well with the stuffed mushrooms.
Wine Tastings are available anytime, and are very reasonably priced at just $12 for six different samples. What’s more, as a Wine Club member, Wine Tastings are only $3! The selection of wines for tasting varies each week, and of course all wines being sampled are available for purchase. There are two levels of Wine Club membership – The Corker at $39.50 per month, which includes two bottles of wine (valued at ~$20-25 per bottle) and a 10% discount on all wine purchases. The Collector, at $79.50 per month includes two bottles of wine (valued at ~$45-50 each), 10% off all wine purchases as well as retail purchases. Which means that this month, not only could you be enjoying 10% off of some tastefully assembled Valentine’s Day gift baskets – but you can always enjoy 10% off some unique and wonderful boutique wines which are typically crafted in small batches.
By the way – you may have noticed I’m not exactly poetic or professional when it comes to writing up the wines. But that’s just the point in going to a tasting at GenuWine; Rhonda, Barbara, Mia and the rest of the staff are all very knowledgeable, and are the furthest thing from “wine snobs” that tend to scare off the casual drinker of wine. Additionally there are a multitude of small-batch, hand-crafted beers for those who enjoy a grain beverage versus that from select fruits or berries. GenuWine is very relaxed and laid back – which explains why on a typical Friday or Saturday night, it’s not unusual to have a standing room only crowd as they do not accept reservations.
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