Gone are the days when Salt Lake City [or Utah, for that matter] was sorely lacking in legitimate spots to get a good bit of booze without flashing a membership or getting sponsored by a stranger to whom you were then obliged to buy a drink. Thank god. In fact, our little red state [that cast the 36th and final vote to repeal prohibition, mind you] has come miles and miles since then. So far, in fact, that we’ve got an actual wine bar. For wine. Like, a place to go grab a glass of really great wine. Sans food!
BTG (an apt abbreviation for "By The Glass") is not a dry place...
There’s wine on tap [*single happy tear streaks down cheek], made possible by argon gas, which prevents it all from oxidizing. All 75 options are available in 2oz., 5oz., or full bottles, but they’ve also got specialty cocktails, and a changing menu of small plates. In a stroke of genius [or hunger], they also forged a mutually beneficial friendship with next-door neighbor, Caffé Molise. Translation: those who prefer amazing Italian food with their glass of vino can order from CM’s tasty menu until 10pm.
We had a little chat with BTG’s owner, Fred Moesinger, and he answered a few questions about this highly drinkable spot…
Tell us about the inspiration for opening this mecca of wines, both red and white: As my wife and I have gotten older, we wanted a place where we could go and relax with a nice glass of wine, so that’s what we’ve created with BTG Wine Bar. We have an upscale and relaxed atmosphere. We are wine-centric, but we feature craft cocktails and local beers, too. The bar is branded as a bar for adults–no televisions, no thumping DJ-driven music, and no pool tables or arcade games.
Have you always loved wine? Because we have. Yes! Well, since I was allowed to drink. Our appreciation and understanding of wine has continued to grow, with education and trips and travel to Europe and California.
Tell us about the space conversion. Was there anything about its previous incarnation that made the transition particularly easy or difficult? The physical bar was in place and a lot of the “guts” of the space were there. We did quite a bit of work behind the bar and had to modify things a bit to accommodate the wine cabinets that allow us the large, by-the-glass selection. We had to source fixtures and when we couldn’t find the particular look we were going for, we had to make some of the stuff ourselves. The booths were in place, but the upholstery was pretty tired, so we had those repaired and changed up the color. Painting of course. We replaced all of the lighting. I’m sure there’s more.
Any roadblocks–negotiable or otherwise–when applying for the liquor license? We didn’t really run in to roadblocks…except for the shortage of “club liquor licenses” that Utah has. We were on the list for about 15 months waiting to open. Eventually, we got a “seasonal” permit, which would have allowed us to operate for only 6 months out of the year. Before we had to close for the “season,” however, we were able to convert to a full-year license.
We’re grateful for that. Let’s gab about the actual wine menu…does it change frequently? How do you choose it? The menu changes 3 to 5 times per year. We do have a lot of items which we consider “core” items that are great wines from great producers that we tend to keep on year round. Our Sommelier, Louis Koppel, and manager, Jesse Garrett, head up the wine list and cocktail list changes based on customer feedback, current trends, and of course the big one—state availability. We work with local brokers like Francis Fecteau [with Libation] and the state to bring in special orders. Other than that, we look at state availability, national press, reputation, customer demand, and price point.
Do you have a favorite bottle you’d recommend? There are plenty I’d recommend! Recently, I’ve been loving our sister-restaurant’s blend—the 2012 Caffé Molise Rosso. It’s exclusive and it’s a blend of mostly Zinfandel with a bit of Syrah and a splash of a field blend of grapes. It’s an easy drinking wine that is great with food or on its own. Our best seller has been the Belle Glos Pinot Noir.
Tell us about BTG and SLC: As far as the role that BTG plays in the community–we are advocates for the responsible appreciation and consumption of wine. We enjoy talking and learning about wine, drinking wine, and promoting wine education in Utah. We’ve allowed our space to be used for educational events relating to wine and food.
BTG WINE BAR | 63 West 100 South | 801.359.2814