Happiest Hour 

Corkscrew wine shop

What it is: Corkscrew is a new Hip Strip wine store that opened Sept. 3. Owner Neva Loney says she's lived in both Chicago and the Bay Area, where she enjoyed access to neighborhood wine stores that provided a carefully selected collection of wines for connoisseurs and newbies alike.

What you'll find: The shop is like a small, nicely curated gallery. The 150 wines in stock are categorized by tone or palate rather than by region or type. Instead of "chardonnay" or "merlot" you'll find wines label by "fruity," "spicy," "earthy," and the most intriguing categorization, "bite me." It's a new way to find wines you might not otherwise try.

Um, bite me?: While the other categories are self-explanatory, "bite me" is unusual. These are kind of the wild cards of the bunch. "Those are the wines that have teeth," Loney says. "They're unique. And they might bite you back." In other words, for the daring.

click to enlarge ERIKA FREDRICKSON
  • Erika Fredrickson

What you're spending: Three-quarters of Corkscrew's wines are under $25. The other quarter seemed to run anywhere between $30 and $70. On a table in the middle of the room, Loney has put together another category she calls the "Special Occasion." This selection of fruity, spicy, bite me and earthy wines are the ones that offer the "best bang for your buck." One example: The Writer's Block Lake County Malbec, from California, features an illustration of Shakespeare on the label and costs only $16, but tastes like a much higher-end vino—one that, Loney adds, goes particularly well with game meat. As Othello said, "Good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well used."

Where to find it: 105 S. Third W., next to Shakespeare & Co.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

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