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New Haven's Wine Thief Provides Wine to Savor and Enjoy

By S. Mathur

The Wine Thief is a New Haven favorite and that's not just because of the inspired name. Both locations, in downtown Crown Street and on Whitney Ave, are passionate about wine - finding the best wines from around the world, advising customers on the best choices for just about any event, and sharing the love of wine and wine lore in a casual, non-intimidating atmosphere.

Wine tastings at the Crown St. location are held on Friday evenings. Wine buyer Tim Pendleton says that "we host an in-store tasting introducing anywhere from 3-5 different wines. The wines are selected thematically to highlight particular regions, grapes, countries, or styles. Tastings highlight what is "new and now" in winedom, curated by our passionate wine, spirit and beer specialists." The tastings are informal events, so guests can stop by at any time during the tasting, at their convenience. All wines at the tastings are available for sale at the store from that evening through the following weeks. There are also beer and cocktail tastings on weekends.

The wines offered at the store are an eclectic mix, Pendleton adds, within a wide price range. Wines in the Highlights category are are varied and priced under $10, while Wine Thief market selections offer a vast choice for less than $20. Special bottles are $25 and up. For all categories, says Pendleton, "Quality and variety are prerequisite at The Wine Thief, regardless of price." Working directly with vintners, The Wine Thief has many excellent wines from unknown wine makers.

Wines offered for sale are selected to go with a variety of cuisines, from casual American fare to spicy ethnic foods and rich holiday feasts. Staff pride themselves on being able to help customers choose the right wine and beer for the occasion - any occasion. Many happy customers have found their favorite vintage or brew at The Wine Thief. The right kind of food to eat with wine, says Pendleton, depends on the wine: "A balanced mix of protein, starch and vegetables generally goes well with wine. The trick is finding the right wine! We take the mystery out of it and keep things simple and straightforward."

Each location has a distinctive décor to match the downtown and neighborhood atmospheres, Pendleton says: "Our Whitney Avenue location is neighborhood funky, offering East Rock atmosphere and patina that is anything but contrived. Veteran staff has seen it all and likely tasted it already too! One of a kind." Downtown "is more "high street" with an airy, upbeat, stylish and youthful feel."

In case you were wondering, wine thief does not refer to a burglar specializing in alcoholic larceny. It is a small tube, usually made of glass, used by wine makers to take a small amount of wine from a barrel or fermentation vessel, to make sure it's coming along as it should.

The Wine Thief also does deliveries, and will make up gift baskets on request. No wonder it has become New Haven's favorite wine store.

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