Local wine bar defies wine snob persona

Local wine bar defies wine snob persona

Local wine bar defies wine snob persona
September 25
00:08 2014

Samantha McDonald / Staff Writer

As customers step into Wine Squared, a playlist of indie music greets them in the background, a contrast to the hole-in-the-wall, Italian-themed bar. Paintings by local artist Robert Hamilton line the right wall, exuding a Day of the Dead theme that only adds to the quirky atmosphere. Directly ahead of the entryway is a menu that features more than 150 different bottles of wine.

From the Old World to the New World, Wine Squared is the only wine bar in the area that is both owned and operated by a certified wine sommelier. Owner Brook Ray called it “the most punk rock wine bar ever.”

Ray stands by this label, encouraging bartenders to dress the way they feel most comfortable and admitting all kinds of customers, from a man with a Mohawk to a woman in a pantsuit.

“We decided to embrace that image,” Ray said. “Being punk rock means you don’t adhere to the norm just because that’s what everybody else is doing. You do your own thing, and that’s definitely what we do here.”

Ray, who started the business in 2005, is a self-proclaimed wine enthusiast who encourages customers to learn about the bar’s offerings, whether that be champagne or cheese. This allows Ray and bartenders to forge relationships with customers of all ages, including those under 21 and even an 80-year-old violinist.

“We’re not wine snobs,” bartender Erin Elizabeth said. “You can have a merlot or a sparkling moscato. We’re not going to turn our noses up to you.”

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Bartender Thomas Miller chats about ethnic foods with Wine Squared regulars. 

Around the bar

Toward the back of the bar are shelves that comprise employee favorites.

Hand-picked by Elizabeth, these wines feature everything from French white wines to Greek red wines. Ray said this is one way for customers to choose a wine from the extensive selection.

“Everybody has a bartender they like,” Ray said. “If they see what that bartender is drinking, they’ll order that.”

Another way customers can find the perfect wine is to leave the choice to their bartender. Brianna McCabe-Alldredge, administrative assistant at the Texas State Historical Association at UNT, has visited Wine Squared several times, yet finds it difficult to remember her favorite wine, a Vinum cabernet sauvignon.

“Every time I come, I always seem to forget the name,” McCabe-Alldredge said. “But when I describe it, the bartender gets it right the very first time.”

Inching past these shelves is a sofa that is periodically moved around to accommodate the bands that frequent Wine Squared. Performers include UNT jazz students who play Thursday and Sunday nights. On top of live music, Wine Squared hosts food and wine tastings, which include a three-course dinner on Sunday nights and wine classes on Wednesday nights.

With eight employees and a capacity for 49 people, the bar can get busy on the weekends. However, customers can stumble to the patio, the newest addition to the building. Although the area is used mostly for private events, it is also open to visiting customers.

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Owner of Wine Squared Brook Ray, left, gives wine lessons to Becky Personett on Wednesday night. 

Looking ahead

In addition to wine, the bar is home to 25 different beers. A build-your-own charcuterie plate offering choices such as smoked gouda, prosciutto and a homemade pâté can interest customers who are looking to relax with more than a few glasses of wine.

For the bar’s 10th anniversary in the spring, Ray plans to invite Denton singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe to perform. Also in the works is a new sign that will hopefully attract more people to the bar, Ray said.

Ultimately, Ray hopes to provide customers with a casual environment while helping them understand the stories behind the wines that they order.

“Anybody who wants to learn about wine can come in here, but we don’t force it on anyone,” Ray said. “We’ll tell them as much as they would want to know. It’s a customized wine experience.”

Featured Image: Erin Mars, left, and Erin Findley enjoy a glass of wine in front of Wine Squared. The punk rock wine bar is located on the Square. Photos by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

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