The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Looking past Franzia


Wine was a unique treasure with humble beginnings and original intent. Wine was neither good nor bad; it was “Wine,” capitalized with no adjectives attached. But the past decade has seen the commoditization of wine. “Brand name” wines have made their appearance, resulting in vineyards producing wine for magazines rather than travelers, and steadily rising wine prices. The marketing of wine has lead to a fickle, and in my opinion, unnecessarily judgmental American palate when it comes to tasting, buying, and drinking wine. Thankfully, the wine community is not blind. In the U.S. there has been a response within the wine industry toward preserving small, family owned vineyards and fair trade importing. There remains, though, a noticeable lack of organic wines, especially wines from old, noteworthy vineyards in Europe.

Fortunately, St. Paul is host to a handful of wine stores focused on reclaiming wine to be of and for the people. The Wine Thief on St. Clair, The Little Wine Shoppe off Como Ave. and, too a lesser extend, Solo Vino on Selby are such examples.

The Macalester-Groveland neighborhood is home to The Wine Thief, a new independently-owned wine shop that upholds these values and offers a surprising selection of wines, ales and beers- all under $20. Located at 17867 St. Clair, a block up from the Tap, The Wine Thief finds its home in a smart little space with wood panel floor and high ceilings lined with intentionally selected wines, sakes, ales, and beer.

Trina, co-owner of The Wine Thief, explained how her store’s products are selected. “We hand-select all the wines and try to demystify the wine-buying process,” she said.

This shop is unique in that it arranges its wine not by region, but rather under categories such as bold,'harmonious,’ spicy,'fruity,’ and `fizzy.’ This is a relief to the casual wine buyer (i.e. all college students and most Americans). Traditionally, wines are arranged according to their region or country of origin.

When buying a wine, ale or beer at The Wine Thief, you enter a conversation with yourself. The categories presented immediately offer you a simple framework of taste that you can work with, and with assistance from the charming and knowledgeable staff, you should leave with a great idea as to what to expect form the wine in your hand. The Wine Thief also consistently has the best prices as well as one of the largest selections of domestics and foreign ales. I recommend the Corsendonk for ales, and Bell’s Best Brown ale for beers.

The Little Wine Shoppe located right off Como Ave at 2236 Carter Ave is my second favorite place for wine. As with The Wine Thief, The Little Wine Shoppe is a relatively new store and is a part of the movement towards bringing wine back to the people. It offers a slightly more modest selection of wines presented the traditional arrangement. However, this drawback is trumped by the friendly and approachable owner who will spend time asking questions about what you would like, rather than lecturing you on what you should know, a tactic that I have found common an many larger wine stores.

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