It’s the 80th anniversary of Twin Liquors, so all 80 locations are giving us a boozy treat: the return of the dollar sale, when prices of wine and spirits drop to “rock bottom.”
The sale sadly does not extend to beer — which is generally pretty cheap anyway — but it’s a good deal if you’ve been eyeing a rare whiskey that wasn’t previously agreeable with your booze budget. During the sale, which starts today and lasts through Saturday, Twin Liquors brings the prices of all wine and liquor in bottles 750 ml or larger to wholesale cost and adds a buck.
So dream big when you stop into your neighborhood store. The dollar sale won’t affect more affordable items as much as it will the more luxury products, the expensive wines and older aged spirits that we merely sigh wistfully at when we’re browsing the shelves for bottles to supply our weekend fun.
And while you’re there, don’t forget to marvel at the fact that Twin Liquors is an 80-year-old company, founded in Austin in 1937, shortly after the repeal of Prohibition.
“The Jabour family ventured into the liquor industry with ‘Jabour’s Package Store,’ which contained a liquor store, a drug store and a soda fountain that were all under the same roof,” according to Twin Liquors. “During this era, operating a liquor store along with a soda fountain and a drugstore was the trend. Competition was fierce after Prohibition, and there were approximately 26 liquor stores within a two-mile area. The Jabour family worked hard and, by the mid-1940s, had expanded the business to three liquor stores and a tavern that only sold beer.”
And now, the home-grown franchise has expanded across Central Texas, venturing north to Waco, south to San Antonio and east to parts of Houston and College Station.
Editor’s note: Updated on May 24, 2017 for National Wine Day, because apparently one wine-related holiday isn’t enough.
Yep, you read that right — February 18 is National Drink Wine Day. Now that’s a national holiday we can get behind. We’ve gathered up a list of the 10 best wine bars in Austin, according to Yelp, along with some highlights from Yelp user reviews.
10. The Butterfly Bar — 2307 Manor Road
“The Butterfly Bar is one of those places that I visit once every 6 or so months and wonder why I’m not there all the time.” — Luci H.
“Can’t say enough about Butterfly Bar… feels like you’re driving in your best friend’s back yard. Good vibes, good vibes.” — Hilary M.
“Great atmosphere and very chill. Kid and pet friendly with neat little attractions all around. This place a combo of Austin coolness!” — Vandesha L.
9. Wink — 1014 N Lamar Blvd Suite E
“What I loved most were the amount of wines by the glass. Wink has a wine bar across from the restaurant proper and they are able to have about double the amount of wines open at any given time. So, you can have a great meal and try different tastes together.” — Melody M.
“Whether in the Wine Bar or Restaurant, we always enjoy Wink. Service is wonderful with emphasis on the ability to inform you about wine and beer in the cute, less fancy pants Wine Bar.” — Christine A.
8.Vino Vino — 419 Guadalupe St
“The cutest little wine bar in the Hyde Park area.” — Sherill T.
“In our most recent visit, sitting toward the back, I was struck again how warm and pleasant the space is becoming. It’s just a nice feeling place to hang out for a while.” — Dennis S.
7. House Wine — 408 Josephine St.
“Located in an adorable little house, House Wine has an inviting, intimate atmosphere.” — Giselle C.
“Super cute place. Definitely an Austin spot. I have had so many people speak highly of Wine House and I can see why.” — Lindsay M.
6. Gino’s Vino Osteria — 1239 E. 51st St.
“I truly don’t understand how it is not packed all night long. Everyone from our waitress to Gino himself was incredibly friendly.” — Brandon K.
“WOW! The wine list at Gino’s is simply fantastic. Peruse. Find one, two or three you love. And the cocktails that man makes – WOWZERS! Again – favorite Uncle Gino!” — Shani S.
5. Winebelly — 519 W. Oltorf St.
“Winebelly has all the perks of the high standards we’ve come to expect in Austin, with none of the pretentiousness attached with it. Just a good ol’ fashion South Austin welcoming vibe.” — Victoria S.
“This is the perfect first date spot! Love all of their wines, appetizers, and cocktails- everything is so so so good!” — Alysha M.
4. Counter 3. FIVE. VII — 315 Congress Ave. Suite 100
“Jason, the Sommelier, is brilliant with his wine pairings and the Pastry Chef Daniella lays out sumptuous desserts. It will be a long time before I’m this impressed with a meal. Perhaps not until my next life.” — Christine A.
“The meat seemed to call for wine so we ordered a glass, at the sommelier’s recommendation and I swear, the food and wine sang together. Like literally (in the figurative sense).” — Alice T.
3. Aviary — 2001 S. Lamar Blvd. Suite C
“This is genuinely one of my favorite places in Austin.” — Kim O.
“Aviary is your home away from home that puts you back into your best mood. A must in Austin: we love it.” — Thom and Vicky H.
2. The Red Room Lounge — 306 E. 3rd St. Suite A
“If you love wine and you like that Speakeasy kind of vibe/going on a scavenger hunt for a wine bar-then Red Room Louge is the place to check out.” — Angela W.
“The staff is what really makes this place special. They are knowledgable [sic] beyond any sort of wine comprehension that I possess. Friendly and informative. Frinformative.” — Luci H.
1. Santorini Cafe — 11800 N. Lamar Blvd.
“Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, friendly staff, delicious Greek food, good wine selection, and tasty coffee drinks. Live music on Thurs. and Friday nights.” — Julie P.
“I already like Greek food, but every bite here was above par. Nice wine, good people.” — Alan M.
The Grove Wine Bar & Kitchen — 800 W. 6th St.
“Great modern spot downtown for drinks and food. They have a nice patio as well.” — Anh N.
“Great patio, excellent happy hour, exceptional wine list and gorgeous dining room!” — Amy D.
Apothecary Cafe & Wine Bar — 4800 Burnet Rd. Suite 450
“Reminds me of the neighborhood cafes in France. Equally good for date night or friends.” — Karen G.
“The food, the romantic vibe and the service made this place 5 stars for us. As I’m enjoying my 2nd glass of wine…I’m texting all my friends to check this place out!” — Kristine F.
Baretto — 10710 Research Blvd. Suite 314
“This place is super cute and nook-like. It’s small and I’m pretty sure it’s seat-yourself-wherever-you-can. All the staff that we encountered were very polite and helpful.” — Yelena S.
“Atmosphere is casual, interior had a nice cozy feel with all the brickwork. All in all a very nice experience.” — Veek N.
Located on Main Street in Fredericksburg, it will be another place where people can go to enjoy glasses of wine or pick up bottles to go.
And on Saturday, both locations of Armadillo’s Leap will have popcorn pairings, small bites and snacks to commemorate the arrival of the Main Street spot, which will also be where visitors can pick up bottles of the BFF Blend for 20 percent off and select merchandise for 10 percent off. Stop by either location from 12 to 5 p.m. to celebrate.
The BFF Blend is a blend of tempranillo, montepulciano and aglianico grapes, delivering notes of fig, chocolate and black tea in a medium body perfect for Texas cuisine like Tex-Mex and barbecue, according to the winery’s tasting notes about the red wine.
Armadillo’s Leap was started by the Osterberg-Kuhlken family, who wanted to give winemaker Dave Kuhlken an outlet for some of his winemaking ideas that didn’t involve tempranillo or viognier, Pedernales Cellars’ two specialties, and also wanted a more dedicated way to offer philanthropy to Central Texas nonprofits and organizations.
That’s the second function of Armadillo’s Leap: $1 of every case of wine sold in the tasting room goes to charity, a different one each year. Last year, the AL Gives program donated $2,000 to Westcave Preserve. This year, that money will benefit Ballet Austin.
Armadillo’s Leap is located at 6266 U.S. 290 and 134 E. Main Street in Fredericksburg. For more information, visit armadillosleap.com.
“The Founder” Founders Beer Dinner, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1. The Alamo Drafthouse is screening the McDonald’s origin story, now in theaters, with a themed menu and pairings from Founders Brewing. $64.95.
Beer, Babies and Boobs at Zilker Brewing, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2. Drink Zilker’s Coffee Milk Stout to help out a good cause: Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin is getting a portion of the stout sales.
South Austin Brewery’s 3 Year Anniversary, 12 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. A special anniversary beer, food trucks like Kebabalicious, and live music from Full Service Circus and more await at this big celebration.
Austin’s Hill Country Wine Tasting, 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. Take this interactive tour of Texas wines (William Chris Vineyards, Perissos Vineyard & Winery, and more) paired with local bands at the Gatsby bar. $45-$80.
Half Step’s 3 Year Anniversary Party, 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. Celebrate the birthday of one of Rainey Street’s most esteemed cocktail bars with Stiles Switch BBQ, live DJ music and ginger palomas.
Second Annual SOUPer Bowl Watch Party at Craftsman, 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5. Several participating breweries will make a soup, stew, gumbo or chili using one of their beers, and you’ll vote on your favorite after tasting samples of each. Oh, and watch the game, too.
Super Bowl Party at Whitestone Brewery, 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5. The Cedar Park brewery will have games, snacks, drink specials and a raffle benefiting Heroes Night Out, in addition to the big game playing on multiple screens.
Rosé Party at Irene’s, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8. Relax on the patio with your first glass or bottle of rosé of the season. California-based Lorenza is also launching in Austin at this party.
The Craft Series at the Driskill, 6 to 9 p.m Monday, Feb. 13. The monthly beer dinner at the 1886 Cafe & Bakery will feature South Austin Brewery this time. Make reservations, but you won’t pay until after the meal. $40.
Valentine’s Mega Mutt Monday at Banger’s, 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13. This extra-romantic version of the dog-friendly event will have all-day happy hour, live music and a puppy kissing booth with Heart of Texas Lab Rescue.
Cookies and Beer at the Whip In, 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15. This sweet pairing will feature Girl Scout cookies and beer from Hops & Grain, AleSmith Brewing and Goose Island Brewing.
2nd Annual Sausage Kings of Austin, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16. At St. Elmo Brewing, several sausage purveyors will compete for your vote, while you sample their wares and two beers from St. Elmo. $26.
Vigilante Grand Opening, 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17. The gaming bar is officially opening with free game rentals and other goodies – for real this time.
Strange Land Brewery’s 2nd Anniversary Party, 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18. Your $20 ticket will get you commemorative glassware, two full pours of any beer (including limited-release, small-batch stuff), a slice of beer cake and more.
Brews & Brunch at Hopfields, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19. Sip on flights of beer like the (512) Brewing Cascabel Cream Stout with floaters of Chameleon Cold-Brew.
Started last year at the restaurateur’s various establishments — such as the Spanish-focused Bullfight and Italian-centric Olive & June — the series highlights a specific spirit from around the world, with each of the classes featuring a tasting, an educational component and small bites. Parkside Project’s beverage director and advanced sommelier Paul Ozbirn will lead each course.
“Each class is designed to offer an in-depth understanding of the complexities of each spirit, from its origins to subtleties in flavors,” Ozbirn said in a press release.
The first one launches on Feb. 6 at Bullfight, where attendees will learn about the Spanish fortified wine known as sherry and “the rich history of the region of Jerez,” where it’s produced. People will get to taste the range of sherry styles, from dry to sweet. Spots are limited with only 36 tickets at $32.50 per person, so don’t delay in reserving your seat.
Another coming class will be at Olive & June on March 27 and features the “brandy-based Italian after-dinner drink, amari,” which you’ll get to sip on while “discussing its history, tradition and its exciting revival on the American cocktail scene,” according to the release. That one will also be $32.50, but tickets don’t go on sale until Feb. 28.
Future classes will focus on gin, rum and mezcal. For more information about the series or the restaurants where the classes are being held, visit parksideprojects.com.
At the largest competition of American wines in the world, Texas wineries proved they can hold their own against some of the top wine producers in the country — taking home seven best-of-class awards for their wine and a total of 158 medals.
“Texas wine may have reached a tipping point, in its development and national reputation, with the recently released results” of the wine competition, Pat Brennan, owner of Brennan Vineyards in the Hill Country, said.
One of his wines, Brennan Vineyards’ 2015 Reserve Viognier, won a Best of Class award, while two others, the 2015 Roussanne and the 2014 Tempranillo, got gold medals. (Best of Class tops gold as the highest honor to receive.) Brennan’s and other Texas wines were up against more than 7,000 wines from 28 states, all tasted blind by a panel of 60 wine experts. There were more than 100 categories for the wines to be entered into.
Brennan noted that California winemakers earned accolades in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for their chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines — two French varietals that the Pacific Coast state typically dominates at making.
“Unfortunately, many Texans do not realize the some of the best wine in the United States is made right here in the Lone Star State,” he said. “We hope more and more people will ask for Texas wine at their favorite restaurants, visit Texas wineries and pick up a bottle at local retailers.”
Here are the seven Best of Class winners:
Brennan Vineyards 2015 Reserve Viognier
Haak Vineyards & Winery Tempranillo 2015
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards Sweet Blush Colibri
Messina Hof Winery Merlot 2015
Perissos Vineyards & Winery Dolcetto 2015
Trilogy Cellars Malbec 2015
Wedding Oak Winery Sweet Alyssum 2015 (white blend)
Texas isn’t the only state with a burgeoning wine region. In Oregon, the Willamette Valley makes arguably some of America’s best pinot noir — as well as other wines that have the world’s wine experts excited about the Pacific Northwest.
On Thursday, more than 60 of the Willamette Valley’s winemakers will be at Pinot in the City, a 6 p.m. tasting that will showcase their pinot noir, as well as other top grapes like pinot gris, chardonnay and pinot blanc. The winemakers, along with winery owners and other notable people in the industry, will pour their wines to introduce local oenophiles to a place that Wine Enthusiast recently named as the Wine Region of the Year.
About an hour south of Portland, the hilly region is relatively young, having gotten officially approved as an American Viticultural Area in 1983, but already, “Willamette Valley Pinot Noir can challenge Burgundy in its ability to capture the nuance and power of the grape,” according to Wine Enthusiast’s article about the honor.
That’s no surprise for people like David Millman. He’s the general manager of winery Domaine Drouhin, which has made a name for itself with a philosophy of “French soul, Oregon soil” and specializes in — you guessed it — pinot noir.
Having lived in Oregon for 12 and a half years, he’s noticed that many wine lovers are still learning about Willamette Valley wines but love them once they do.
“There is still this sense of discovery about Oregon wine,” he said. “Oregon feels like this exciting place because it is, and there’s a lot of energy reflected in the wines and the range of wines that we make. For people raised on certain styles of wines, they suddenly have a huge diversity of often elegant, earthy, place-driven wines to dive into that are beautiful, that they can connect with, and they do.”
Like Texas, a majority of Willamette Valley wineries (total, there are about 530 of them) are family-owned to this day and making 5,000 cases or less, Millman said. The goal for them in making wine is to celebrate the lush, fertile land and cool climate that has rewarded grape growers there with a flourishing crop. Oregon winemakers are collaborative, “just alive with curiosity and passion, and there’s still a pioneering spirit,” he said.
The pinot noir, you’ll find, is the best of both Burgundy and California: balancing the minerality and higher acidity of Burgundy pinot with the brighter, more fruit-forward profile of California pinot.
“Pinot noir is almost synonymous with Oregon,” Millman said.
Become enchanted with Willamette Valley wines — from wineries including Erath Winery, King Estate Winery and Moffett Vineyards — starting at 6 p.m. Thursday with $75 general admission. Pinot in the City will take place at the J.W. Marriott at 110 E. Second St. and will have pinot-friendly appetizers and hors d’oeuvres to pair with the wines.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Austin Food & Wine Alliance.