I recently hosted some friends for a casual, late-summer dinner at my home, and I needed to stock up on some wine and beer to serve my guests. A friend pointed me to RED Spirits & Wine in Bellevue. “Naaaah,” I balked, planning to hit up my regular liquor store up the street. She persisted, promising me that I would be completely satisfied with driving a little farther than usual for the “RED experience.” I was intrigued enough to make the trip. It was a Saturday, I had time. And I’ve gotta say, it was, indeed, worth the trip.
While I enjoyed the “RED experience” for the staff expertise, I have since learned that there are even more intriguing reasons that make RED worth a visit, which include a growler station, humidor, single barrel whiskey program, party planning, signature cocktail creation and so much more. Here’s a quick look at my experience and some additional RED facts you may not know:
Lest I sound like a lush, I walked into RED, located prominently at the corner of Old Hickory Boulevard and Highway 70, and felt like a kid in a candy shop. A fairly large store, RED has so much to see and consider and explore. Wines and liquor aplenty, sure, but there are also mixers galore, gifts at all price points, and some of the most unusual items I’d ever seen at a liquor store. I guess I looked a little lost, or perhaps overwhelmed, because a friendly salesperson named Denny rescued me from my daze. He asked if he could help me (yes!), what I was looking for, what and how many I was serving for dinner and how much I was looking to spend. I gave him the information he needed, and he knew exactly where to go, leading me back to the red blends and offering a few different options. Easy as pie. And that sort of experience, says store manager Adam Binder, is exactly the inspiration behind RED. “As excited consumers ourselves, we wanted to share a vision where you could feel at ease, have fun and truly shop the aisles of our store as you would in any other retail setting,” he explains.
After settling on the wine, I asked Denny about beer … what to serve to folks who you know enjoy beer, but you’re just not sure what kind. Recognizing his strengths and acknowledging his weaknesses, Denny introduced me to Mike, explaining that HE was the person to talk to about beer. Mike suggested a safe solution that would happily please any beer fan, and he was spot-on.
“We are not afraid to sell people exactly what they need,” Adam explains, adding that his staff is a dedicated, energetic and experienced lot. “We are a group of passionate people bottled up in four walls trying to connect with our local drinking community. We embrace our consumers’ love of these products and try to enrich their dinner parties, events and lives.” And that was exactly what I experienced.
In addition to fantastic service like I received, here are five more things to know about RED:
1. Single barrel whiskey program & humidor
Adam has, to date, purchased 30 entire barrels of whiskey to have them bottled exclusively for RED customers. Current options include Jack Daniel, Crown Royal, Jefferson’s Ocean Aged, Masterson’s 10 Year Rye, Journeyman Featherbone Bourbon and more. And this fall, customers can enjoy Weller Special Reserve, Cleveland, Eagle Rare and Wathan’s.
Additionally, customers can peruse a selection of 40 cigars available in RED’s humidor.
2. The Growler Station
Opening at the end of September, RED’s growler station offers customers the opportunity to purchase beer and some wines that otherwise could only be enjoyed at a bar. There will be 20 taps dedicated to Southern craft or hard-to-find beers, and growlers will be 32 ounces or 64 ounces at prices slightly better than purchasing bottles or cans. Prices will vary, but Adam offers a ballpark for 64 ounces being $5.99 to $9.99.
3. Party planning and special services
Adam is available to help stock customers’ wine cellars, find the perfect hand-picked pairing and even develop a signature cocktail for a party or special event. “My years in restaurants creating award-winning wine lists, pairing menus and cocktail lists is a service that every interested consumer has access to by simply coming in the store or calling my cell phone,” which Adam offers to us: (615) 579-6039.
Additionally, there are two RED employees strictly dedicated to helping customers stock their bars for parties or events. “They can come to your home or your business to organize your order and give you deep discounts to make sure you are meeting your budget,” he further explains.
4. RED Events
Customers can come to RED not only to shop, but to hang out and enjoy a social experience. Events include tastings, live music, live painting, community entertainment and educational series for those looking to expand their knowledge of the subject. “These events really help us get to know our customers,” says Adam, “and, plus, they are just a lot of fun.”
5. Staff expertise and continuing education
Adam is a certified sommelier, and there are two others on staff who are working on their certification to obtain sommelier status. Also, Adam points out the hands-on experience his staff has. “We have a half dozen accomplished musicians on staff,” says Adam, “and musicians know about booze!” Fair enough. (SB TIP: Adam flexes his expert status with these, his Top 10 Picks for Fall Wines.)
Additionally, the RED website is an educational resource featuring “REDucation” articles, recipes, a wine and beer blog, party and wedding ideas, and online ordering, which they’re currently just experimenting with, but hope to expand in the near future.
RED Spirits & Wine is located at 7066 Hwy. 70 S. in Bellevue. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Learn more at (615) 646-1400 or redspirits.com.
Thanks to Leila Grossman of Grannis Photography for today’s photographs. See more of her work at grannisphotography.com.