In January, a New York Times headline announced that the American wine industry has an “old people problem.” Given how well the craft beer industry has targeted young consumers—and the rise of craft cocktails, hard seltzers, and, now, cannabis drinks—you can see how archaic wine can seem to 20-somethings unfamiliar with terms like “bouquet” or “tannins.” And the good stuff can get pricey.
Sixty Vines, which opened in August in the Vantage South End building, seeks to remedy this problem. The Texas-based restaurant has seven other locations in the U.S., but this is the first in North Carolina. South End, with its high concentration of young drinkers, was the logical place to expand.
The 8,000-square-foot space has high ceilings with natural wood beams, communal tables, an open kitchen with a view of the wood-fired pizza oven, and a 2,600-square-foot patio. All told, it’s got seating for 350, which is important when you’re competing with so many neighboring breweries.
Its main selling point, though, is the 60 wines on tap. It’s not a self-serve system like The Auto Pour; everything’s delivered to your table. To answer the obvious question: Kegged wine tastes no different than bottled. Busy bartenders don’t always have time to check natural wine corks, and cork failure can result in oxidized wine, making it taste “off,” or vinegary. So you’re actually more likely to get a fresh pour from a tap.
The food menu consists of shared plates, salads, pizzas, pastas, mains, and desserts. Wines come in 2.5-, 5-, or 8-ounce pours, so you can pair four (or more!) wines with your meal. Pricing varies, but 2.5-ounce pours start at around $4, and 8-ounce glasses go up to $16.
Make sure to order something to nibble with your first round, because it’s easy to land a quick buzz, and you don’t want to get sloppy. The customizable charcuterie boards (price varies by size) are a safe choice if you’re accustomed to meat and cheese when you imbibe. For something more adventurous, try the Lamb Piquillos ($15) or the Fried Chicken + Caviar ($19), topped with lemon creme fraiche.
The 12-inch pizzas come with crispy edges, a chewy center, and bubbling cheese. The classic Margherita ($16) and Spicy Sausage ($16) are pretty straightforward, but the Fig & Prosciutto ($18) is more complex and a better complement to pinot noir. The white sauce, prosciutto, and mozzarella give it a savory base, while honey and figs add a sweet punch. For a vegan option, go for the Broccolini & Potato ($20), a cauliflower crust layered with roasted broccolini, crushed potato, Calabrian chilies, tomato, rosemary, and cashew cheese.
Of the four pasta dishes, the Campanelle ($18) with shrimp, garlic, grape tomatoes, basil, and white wine sauce is the standout. Pair it with a bright and citrusy white to balance out the garlic and herbs. Mains include Atlantic Salmon ($27), Pan Roasted Chicken ($24), and an Angus NY Strip ($62) that calls for something red and velvety.
Sixty Vines also serves cocktails, mocktails, and beer for anyone who’s not a wine connoisseur, and they’ve zeroed in on something else that speaks to a younger generation: sustainability. Serving wine on tap keeps mounds of glass bottles, labels, corks, and foil out of landfills. One keg holds 26 bottles (and 1,500 bottles over its refillable lifetime). Like most things a restaurant orders in bulk, it saves money, which means cheaper wine for customers.
This wine bar and restaurant feels a lot like a brewery without stroller parking and flat-screens. It’s not pretentious like a reservation-only tasting room in Napa, and servers take time to explain what’s what if you’re not fluent in wine. It’s a place that knows its core audience but leaves the door open for anyone who doesn’t normally frequent wine bars—or has been too intimidated to try.
1415 Vantage Park Drive, Ste. 100
11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday
10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday
10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Unless you live within walking distance, take a rideshare. Street parking is limited—and you’ll want to stay for another glass.