I taste a lot at Lake Travis Wine Trader: it’s close to my home, there’s a wide selection of wines, and they have lots of interesting tastings. I only really discovered it when I started this blog — when I had made the decision to write this thing, I couldn’t figure out how I would manage to taste enough wines to keep a blog filled up! I don’t drink wine every day, and I couldn’t even remotely afford to buy enough full bottles of interesting wine to keep me blogging regularly.
LTWT to the rescue! They offer more than 30 wines by the glass, and offer tasting portions of all of them. Their list changes pretty regularly, and they also offer six different flights of four wines each, if you want to taste wines against each other. I love tasting wines in flights — there’s something about the contrast of multiple wines that are similar but different that really makes me feel like I am tasting profoundly. I especially enjoy tasting similar varietals from different regions around the world: it’s so interesting how different soils, weather patterns and winemaking can make the same grape into such different wine.
Because it’s of interest to me, I think you’ll also find it relevant that their tasting portions range from $3.00 to $10.50, and glasses range from $6.00 to $21.00, and on their high end they’re pouring stuff like Far Niente Chardonnay and Antinori Tignanello. They have a WineKeeper, if you’re curious about storage methods.
I’ve heard the criticism of Lake Travis Wine Trader that they’re all about the California wines, to the exclusion of all others. Just looking at this week’s list, I beg to quibble: half of the wines they’re pouring right now are California wines, but the other half are from Oregon, Connecticut, Italy, Spain, France, Argentina, Australia, and Portugal (and not fortified, either). They have a very respectable non-CA bottle selection of affordable and collectible wines from around the world. Did I mention that you can purchase any bottle in the place and drink it in the shop for only $3 more? Considering that all their stemware is Reidel, I think that’s a solid deal.
Food wise, there’s a $10 cheese plate and a $5 gorgonzola plate, as well as chocolates by the Sweet Shop. They’re cool with you bringing in take-out, though, so if you want to drink the good stuff with the Papa John’s pizza you bought next door, you’re wired for sound. Heh, and if your food tastes are slightly more sophisticated, you can’t go wrong with nearby Pao’s Mandarin House, which is in the neighboring strip mall. Mizu Sushi is just a few doors down from LTWT, but I’ve never been there so I can’t give an opinion.
One of my favorite things about this place, which I have mentioned quite a bit in posts past I’m sure, is their tasting program. I have yet to be disappointed in a Tuesday Night Seminar, in which one pays $30 and tastes some very high-end wines, with instruction and snacks provided. They like you to RSVP for that one. It’s a great way to ruin yourself forever for cheap wine, for better or for worse.
Saturday Premium Tastings are drop-in, from 2-5, and feature a taste of three high-end wines for $20. Generally, there’s a theme, but it’s always a nice selection. I attended Steven’s Sunday “Virtually Free” Tasting this week, and tasted four wines for only $5. This one runs from 2-6, and the price of your tasting is waived if you buy a bottle of wine that day. This is a great way to discover new value wines with little-to-no risk to me, the customer!
George and Lori Wise opened up this place a couple of years back, and Lori attends Tuesday Wine Seminars pretty regularly. The only person I ever seem to find behind the bar is the knowledgeable and charming Steven, who certainly tends to the joint like he’s invested in it. Steven is a great presence behind the bar: he’s sincerely friendly and engages with the customer, but he isn’t all up in your business, either. He remembered me the second time I walked into the bar, although my nerdly way of writing in a wine journal is somewhat memorable. Lori Best Wine is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators (like your very own scamp), and I hear tell she and George are avid collectors.
If you’re a Lakeway local or just passing through, do stop by the Lake Travis Wine Trader and raise a glass. I think you’ll be pleased with your surroundings, your company, and your libation.