As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, people are desperate to help their favorite restaurants, which are just as desperate and lost as to how to stay in business. Wine helps.
Across Miami, sophisticated wine programs have been moving out of flashy restaurants and pricey hotels and into independently owned spots that are investing in their wine experts and bringing interesting bottles —
natural, organic, biodynamic or otherwise — to people at better prices and with greater frequency and expertise than ever before.
On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency and a state of emergency for all of Florida as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In the five-page declaration, DeSantis addressed restaurants and bars, closing all dining rooms statewide but allowing takeout and delivery of food. He also allowed restaurants that don't have package licenses, normally needed to sell bottles of alcohol for off-premise consumption, to sell their beer, wine, and spirits to the public, providing food accompanies the sale.
To help fill some of the yawning gaps arising from their forced closure, many restaurants are now selling their wine supplies at retail prices, which are significantly cheaper than the three-times-wholesale markup usually found on a wine list. If that's not enough reason to buy, ask yourself, what else do you have to do during what is essentially a worldwide lockdown?
Eclectic wines from Alma3206 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove
This quaint Coconut Grove restaurant offers inventive Spanish tapas, like octopus with gochujang and black romesco, alongside a diverse wine list that includes everything from lambruscos and malbecs to grenache blancs and cab francs, all at a whopping 30 percent off.
Greek wine from BarMeli 696927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Amidst the countywide and nationwide restaurant shutdown, owner Liza Meli is offering bottles from her organic wine list at 40 percent off for takeout and delivery. Among them are a pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc from Aleks Simcic from the world-renowned Edi Simcic winery, as well as an organic viognier-assyrtiko from Avantis Estate.
Low intervention wine from Boia De5205 NE Second Ave., Miami
This Little Haiti hideaway's list of low intervention and predominantly organic and biodynamic wines is curated by sommelier Bianca Sanon. "We offering them at retail prices, and things that aren't really seen in retail shops will be available," she said. "We’re going to do six bottles for an additional 10 percent discount and if you end up getting a mixed case, you get 15 percent off."
Taste of Argentina from Fiorito5555 NE Second Ave., Miami
Brothers Maximiliano and Cristian Alvarez have converted that little window at the front of the restaurant into a drive-through pickup operation where you can snatch a vast array of Argentine varietals for reduced prices, including Yacochuya produced by Michel Rolland, who's become one of the country's favorite winemakers.
Natural wines from Fooq's1035 N. Miami Ave., Miami
Now is a good time to grab this downtown haunt's expansive list of natural and rare wines, all at 30 percent off. Offerings include Domaine de Villaine “Les Clous,” Tenuta La Piccola, and a 2015 Gran Moraine that usually go for $102, $44, and $98 respectively. Should you need any guidance, sommelier and manager Maca Carillo is on hand for advice and personal consultations.
Natural wines and more from Jaguar Sun230 NE Fourth St., Miami
While the downtown spot is best known for chef Carey Hynes' pristine pastas and bar man Will Thompson's cocktails, its wine list is more than respectable and even includes the occasional sherry for the old soul in your crew. Like many wine-happy spots, it's selling its bottles at retail, which equates to about a 30 percent discount off dine-in prices. "We have a nice balance between wines that sort of taste classic but are made either naturally or with low intervention," Thompson said. "We do have conventional wines and we try to carry things that are delicious for everybody and things that are really interesting."
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Italian reds and naturals from Macchialina820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach
Alongside Michael Pirolo's pared-down takeout menu, Macchialina is dishing out its diverse array of mostly Italian wines curated by sommelier and manager Jacqueline Pirolo at about 30 percent off regular prices. Among the favorites are three popular varieties of lambrusco, a bubbly red wine from Emilia-Romagna. "You would never be able to find most of our wine list outside of a restaurant," she said.
Natural wines from Niu Kitchen and ArsonNiu Kitchen
134 NE Second Ave., Miami
While Deme Lomas' work in the kitchen has helped make these fraternal twin restaurants two of the city's favorites, it's Karina Iglesias' growing and eclectic selection of natural wines that has helped draw people in for hours on end. Now, they're all available for 30 percent off at Niu Kitchen's front door as Lomas composes a new takeout menu each day from the pocket-sized kitchen set a few meters away.
Natural wine from Stanzione 8787 SW Eighth St., Miami
This Brickell Neapolitan pizza joint stands at the forefront of Miami's natural wine scene thanks to co-owner Ashley Stanzione's tireless research and unending appetite for juice. Stanzione is selling off its wine at near- retail prices, and doing a three-for-$100 deal that allows you to choose the distribution you want (so many reds, so many whites) and they'll put together a box for you. "All of our wines are just easy drinking, straightforward, fun, delicious, nothing you have to rack your brain around," Stanzione said. "All of these wines are going to be great with anything you're going to have at home." Visit the restaurant website for tasting notes and varieties. You can order online, or call the store and opt for pickup or delivery.
Subsistence six-pack from Wolfe's Wine Shoppe124 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables
Miami's OG specialty wine shop is offering to deliver a rotating lineup of six bottles — three reds, two whites, and one rosé - for $145. Even better: Owner Jeffrey Wolfe is offering white-glove, drop-off service to Coral Gables, South Miami, and Coconut Grove.