205 S. Stratford Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
336.765.8175 | Vin205.com
WINE SHOP HOURS: Monday CLOSED • Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM • Sunday 10:00 AM to 3 PM
VIN205 HOURS: Monday CLOSED • Tuesday – Saturday 4:00 PM to 9:30 PM • Friday 11:30 AM to 4:00 PM • Saturday and Sunday Brunch 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Y’all know that I love being a restaurant reviewer. It’s fun to visit a different restaurant each month and have the opportunity to sample great food! But this month is really special. I saw “Wine Merchants” show up on my list and thought – “Huh. Okay – Not sure what is on the menu there.” Honestly, I expected maybe some finger food or appetizer cuisine. Instead, I discovered one of Winston-Salem’s best-kept secrets.
Located at 205 S. Stratford Road, Wine Merchants is located in the shopping center beside Piedmont Federal. When I walked inside, I was completely surprised. Not only was the space much bigger than I expected, but I also wasn’t expecting such beautiful ambiance! The exterior was deceptive – it looked small and quaint, but it’s roomy, and decorated in a way that is designed to offer comfort, relaxation, and conversation. And indeed, it worked. We were there for over two hours!
As we were seated, our server brought the first of four wines for us to sample. The first was a French, sparkling wine called Cuvée Prestige Domaine Rosier. This wine is made from Chardonnay and Mauzac Blanc grapes. It was light and refreshing and designed to be paired with the appetizers that were forthcoming. It was a great summer wine!
Our appetizer course started with the Breads and Spreadsplatter. For a girl who had been avoiding bread for a few months, this tasted like manna. The bread is freshly baked in-house and is everything bread is supposed to be: warm and chewy and delicious. It was served with a creamy housemade pimento cheese that was some of the best I’ve ever had. It wasn’t sharp-tasting as some pimento cheese can be. In addition to pimento cheese, the bread also arrived with sweetened butter and organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
We were also given a Cheese and Charcuterie board to try. If you read regularly, you know that I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t love, but I made very good friends with the blue cheese on this platter. YUM!!! Some of the best I’ve ever had! The board also included meats that were smoked in-house, and a beautiful blend of marinated olives. I am as fond of olives as I am of cheese… So I would have been happy if he’d thanked us for coming and sent us on our way after that. But more was on the way.
While we were waiting for the salads to arrive, we were invited to sample an Oregon wine, Underwood Rosé Bubbles. This is a sparkling rosé pinot noir. Rosé lovers will love this wine. It’s not overly sweet and is another great summertime wine.
The first salad to arrive was the Old School Caesar Salad. Everything that goes into a traditional Caesar Salad can be found in this hearty option. Made with fresh, local, and organic greens, the salad packed a rich and flavorful punch! Everything from the dressing to the croutons are housemade. Delicious!
But when it comes to salads, when there’s fruit or goat cheese involved – be still my beating heart. I was tempted to bogart the Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad for myself. Again, this included locally sourced organic greens and the most incredibly fresh strawberries. Generous portions of creamy goat cheese were on top, and the whole salad was tossed with a lovely balsamic dressing. Perfection on a plate.
The third bottle of wine made its way to the table. But don’t worry. We were only sipping. As I tell restaurants frequently, don’t give me anything to drink if you want me to write a coherent article. But this next wine was a big hit with our group. We were sold on it before the first taste simply because of the name alone – “Ring of Fire.” (Any other Johnny Cash fans out there? I know you’ll appreciate our excitement!) Produced at McRitchie Vineyard, this is a Yadkin Valley wine from Dobson, NC, and was our first red of the evening. Made from Merlot and Sangiovese grapes, this wine was rich and bold. It definitely lived up to its name!
And the fourth wine sample of the evening was a chardonnay from the Napa Valley called Cakebread Cellars. With an oaky flavor, this chardonnay did not disappoint and had hints of fruit in the flavor. A great option for a chardonnay enthusiast!
Our entrees arrived, and once again, I was reminded of what a surprise I was in for! I had arrived expecting appetizers, and instead, we were served elegant cuisine including Roasted Poulet Rouge. This chicken is sourced from Joyce Farms and was a generous portion that was cooked to tender perfection. We enjoyed this entrée with a side of broccolini which was extraordinarily flavored and roasted. Delicious! Our second side with this entrée was Mama’s Mac & Cheese.
I have to say – after years of not really caring for Mac & Cheese, I’m starting to realize I’ve just been eating the wrong kind. Granted, my son thinks Kraft Mac & Cheese is good eating, so I’ve probably judged this dish unfairly. Certainly, Wine Merchants’ take on this traditional side has forced me to admit that I was wrong. I’d take a third and fourth helping of that! WOW!
We were served another entrée called South Pole Salmon Niçoise. Despite being a middle-aged, 44-year old woman, I officially felt like a grown-up with this one. This entrée is beautiful. One of those creations that makes me wonder – how on earth did they come up with this? And yet, I’m so grateful that they did. Freshly baked salmon was served with fresh green beans, potatoes, olives, a six-minute egg, and topped with a lemon mustard hot vinaigrette. It was beautiful and packed with flavor and a combination that just has to be tried to be fully appreciated.
Our last was Chicken Pie. And I’m going to sum up this Southern Classic very simply – your grandmother would ask for this recipe. Don’t misunderstand… I’m not being disrespectful to the grandmas out there who are known for and loved for their from-scratch chicken pies. But this dish… Look, just do me a favor and go get some. Then you won’t be shocked that I ranked it so high. Go hungry though because this Joyce Farm chicken includes a thick bone gravy and is topped with puff pastry. You’ll thank me. I promise.
For the dessert round, we switched gears to coffee. Correction: I switched gears to coffee. My dinner mates don’t always agree with me that coffee can be consumed at any time of day and at any time of the year, but this was so good, they ended up breaking their own rules and having some with me. A French press arrived at the table with a locally roasted blend of Costa Rican, Mexican, and Ethiopian beans. Freshly brewed deliciousness. Just promise me that you won’t ruin it with cream and sugar. Just drink it black as it’s intended. AH. MAZ. ING. I could have easily had a few more cups if I hadn’t been so full. And we still had four desserts to try.
The desserts at Wine Merchants are scratch-made. And not one of them disappointed. First up – Coconut Cream Pie. Forget everything you thought you knew about Coconut Cream Pie and get a slice. Gluten-free, light, and fluffy. Incredible.
We also tried the Chocolate Malt Pie. I have to be honest – chocolate desserts aren’t usually my first choice. Mostly because they are generally too rich for me. Before you judge me and think I’m crazy, please take into consideration how much food I’ve usually just consumed when I tell you about the dessert round! But this chocolate pie was a surprise. It wasn’t heavy. It was rich, just as chocolate should be. But it was light and airy, too.
And speaking of chocolate, my feeling that chocolate is too rich doesn’t apply to ice cream. And they were speaking my language when they showed up with homemade Rocky Road Ice Cream that included housemade marshmallows. Y’all, I’ve made marshmallows before. There’s an art to the process. And this was a work of art. YUM!
Our last dessert of the evening was a housemade Blueberry Sorbet. In-Cred-Ible. There are so many good things I could say about this one. The housemade sorbets are on a flavor rotation. I feel that it’s my duty as a food reviewer to go back frequently to sample the other flavors to determine if they are just as good.
And that’s it, folks! That wrapped up another edition of Rosey’s Review! I’m delighted to now be in the know about this hidden gem, and I urge you to visit it for yourself. Make sure you tell them that Rosey sent ya!