- BEST WINE LIST: Crush Wine Bar.
Since its opening in March, Crush Wine and Cheese Bar at Scott and Markham has quickly become an after-work hot-spot as well as our readers’ pick as the place with the best wine list.
Owner Joe St. Ana, a Jacksonville, Fla. native with 15 years experience in the wine and liquor business, attempts to educate everyone who walks in the door. With 130 kinds of wine sold by the bottle, 58 by the glass and various meats and cheeses, St. Ana offers plenty of palate pleasers.
The 1,660-square-foot space, which seats about 50 people, achieves a sophisticated coziness. Patrons can lounge in leather chairs or sit at white-clothed tables for two or four while listening to soft jazz. Paintings by local artists deck the walls of the dimly lit room.
On any given night, St. Ana will host private-party-style wine tastings. He selects five wines from the menu — sometimes showing off a few specialties that aren’t on the menu — and provides olives, cheeses and bread to snack on. He changes the menu monthly, keeping what he considers staples in each category — David Bruce petite sirah, Marquis Philips shiraz and Ambullneo chardonnay, among others. If you’re interested in a vibrant, full-bodied shiraz, a glass of 3 Rings is $8. St. Ana also suggested a bottle of Valley of the Moon, the smoothest cabernet sauvignon under $40.
Wanna splurge? Order the Krug Grande Cuvee champagne for $190.
— Nicole Boddington