23 May, 2010

Flights and fun with friends.

The quest for new wine experiences and new wines to be tasted drew me across the river to St. Paul's newest wine bar: Bin Wine Bar. It's located in the newly revived Lowertown along with Bario and The Bulldog (my favorite place for beer and tater tots, but that's another post). Along with me were friends Maija and Jenna (who, by the way, writes a great blog called Eat Drink Pretty) who both have a good handle on the Twin Cities scene.

We started off with a flight of whites and one rose that we had never tried before.  One of the great things about Bin Wine Bar is that you can buy wine by the bottle, the glass or the the taste. We each ordered a taste of 4 wines. Apparently, they typically serve wine in flights of 3 as our wine arrived in this wooden crate, pictured above, which I found really awkward, but my companions found charming. The fourth was served on the side. Each wine comes with a card listing about 4 tasting notes. Our wines:

Concannan Rose: this was the favorite of the flight. Beautifully colored, it tasted of strawberries, raspberries and melon. Very fruity and refreshing! I went to the Concannan website to get more information on this wine, but there was little. It does say it's a blend, but of which grapes, I'm not sure.

Famega Vihno Verde: Very crispy and almost effervescent, this wine is tart like a green apple and very light. Vihno Verde literally mean green wine and this definitely tastes green. A great summer wine.

Osborne Solaz Blanco: This Spanish wine is made from 100% Viura, a grape that is native to Spain. It's very aromatic and had notes of apricot and flowers. If you're a fan of Chardonnay or Viognier, this wine might be a welcome change for you.

Seven Daughters White Winemaker’s Blend: Made of French Colombard, Chardonnay, Riesling, Symphony, Orange Muscat, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc this too was very floral in it's nose. The tasting notes say tangerine, orange blossom, and melon. To be honest, I wasn't sure what I was tasting.

Overall, we liked our wines. Food on the other hand was less impressive. It wasn't bad, just nothing to write home about. As one of us said, "but I could do this at home, I expect more when I go out." Here's what we had:

 We started with the Cheese Plate and the Charcuterie Plate. Both were fine with ample crackers (a pet peeve of mine is the lack of bread/crackers that comes with both of these at most establisments) but the server failed to describe what types of cheeses and smoked and cured meats were on the plate. The cheese plate did include these delicious chocolate almonds. And the Charcuterie Plate had a few pickled items that nicely cut the fattiness of the meats. 

This was the smoked salmon plate, probably our favorite nibble of the evening. I like the interactive nature of being able to put together my own perfect bite and it makes it easy to share. It paired nicely with wines we were drinking. 

We also tried the wild mushroom and fontina flatbread. The crust seemed underdone and too chewy.

Lastly, we tried the goat cheese and beet crostini. Again, this tasted fine, but as you can see in the above photo, this just looks sloppy.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a nice night out with friends Bin Wine Bar will be a fine place to enjoy an easy glass of wine. If you're a foodie who's looking for a wine experience, you're likely to be a bit disappointed in Bin. I'm hoping they'll work the kinks out of this place as I really want Lowertown to do well.

If you've had an experience at Bin Wine Bar, let me know what you think.



  1. Oh the not enough bread with a cheese or meat plate is a huge pet peeve of mine too.

  2. I had a blast you you and Maija on Saturday. I also enjoyed your recap! The photos actually turned out pretty well :) Please let me know if you find the Rose at any liquor stores. And thanks for the Eat Drink Pretty shout out!

  3. My wife and I visited Bin back in February, not terribly long after they opened, for drinks and dessert. We loved the space and the staff was very attentive, but the wine list, at least what was available by the glass, was rather underwhelming. I haven't checked to see if it's been updated and we fully intend to give Bin another try, but there are a lot of spots between Lowertown and where we live in the SW burbs. Like you, I really want to see Bin and Lowertown do well.

  4. Nice recap, Sandy! I really wish the food would have been better as well. Next time we'll drink wine at Bin and then go to the Bulldog for tater tots!