Review: Taste Select Wines bar in Austin, TX
202 W Cesar Chavez
Website: Taste Select Wines
Hours: Monday thru Thursday, 10am-12midnight; Friday and Saturday, 10am-1am; Sunday, 12noon-9pm
No Happy Hour
I have rewritten this review at least three times. I really wanted a clever way to sneak-up on the idea that I just love Taste Select Wines. I know it is bad form to say I love you on the first date, but when it strikes, you just have to go with it.
Taste Select Wines or Taste is located at 202 Cesar Chavez in one of the CSC buildings. “What’s so great about Taste?” you ask. Here it is: Taste has 93 wines available by the glass or taste. 45 of these are on a well-thought out list with prices that are quite reasonable. Since they offer both 3 and 6 ounce servings, you have plenty of room for different tasting options.
Their wine by the glass list is as good as anyone’s in town, but the coolest thing is their self-serve tasting area. They have high-tech wine dispensing/preserving units with 48 different wines: 32 red and 16 white. (The wine dispensers are similar to the units behind swanky bars in Europe.)
You give them a credit card or ID, and they give you a glass and a smart card with $50 on it. Then you taste wine, without any need for a waiter or bartender to pour. You just walk up, put your smart card in a slot, hold your glass under a spout, and push a button. The unit delivers exactly 1.5 ounces of preserved wine at the proper temperature into your glass. When you are finished tasting, you just return the smart card and pay for the wine you tasted. (Two of us tried 10 wines for a total of 14 tastes, with a rather low tasting cost of $49.32.)
If you have questions about the wine or want a new glass, the owners are there to help. I cannot tell you how relaxing and enjoyable the self-serve tasting experience was — you will just have to go and see for yourself.
Taste is also a boutique retail wine store offering several hundred labels at very competitive prices. This is a real opportunity for all wine drinkers to try and buy wines. I am really happy to see something like this come to Austin.
And then there’s the food. When we started WineEnabler.com, we pledged to keep everything about wine, but this was the best wine bar food I have ever had. We started with Ahi Tuna served with a tarragon mint vinaigrette and preserved lemon, and the tuna was absolutely perfect. Simply the best I have ever had, full stop. The cheese plate, steak tartar and braised beef shortribs that followed were somewhere between good and great.
I am reluctant to tell everyone about Taste, because I want to keep it all to myself. But this is by far the best wine bar I have yet to visit in Austin. It was a great first date, and I hope they can keep it up.