People tend to rub their eyes a bit when walking into Faubourg Wines (2805 St. Claude Ave., 504-342-2217) for the first time, and it’s not just from the change of light. Catherine Markel recently opened this small but impressively-stocked wine shop not far from her home in Faubourg Marigny and very close to the Press Street railroad crossing, a stretch better known for fast food and used furniture stores than fine wines and artisan cheese.
“People are like, ‘I was just on St. Claude Avenue, so where I am now?’” Markel laughs.
But St. Claude Avenue has been getting a more eclectic mix of small businesses lately, and Faubourg Wines has clearly become an early hit with Markel’s neighbors, who not only shop for wine here, but sip glasses of it and compare notes.
The shop specializes in small producers in general and inexpensive wines in particular.
“I always try to have 100 wines under $16,” says Markel. “In my experience, most people are looking for wines at that price point, so why not give them a lot of choices instead of having to keep going back to the same bottles?”
From a spare, copper-topped wine bar, she serves selections from the inventory at $5 per glass, and customers can drink their retail purchases at the shop in fine stemware for a $2 corkage fee.
Faubourg Wines also offers a sort of self-guided approach to cheese boards. Pick your cheeses from the cooler, get some crackers or nuts or chocolates from the retail racks, and then Markel will make up your choices as a plate. Think about it in the style of assembling an indoor picnic.
Faubourg Wines hosts free tastings each Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (through these will be on hold Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 for the holidays). This Wednesday, Dec. 19, the tasting will double as a benefit for the Sula Foundation, a local pit bull rescue group that will be there selling its 2013 Pit Bulls of New Orleans calendar and other merchandise.
As a tribute to the often unfairly maligned breed, Markel will be pouring some under-appreciated or misunderstood wines.
Faubourg Wines is open Tue.-Thu., noon to 9 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. noon to 10 p.m. and Sun. noon to 7 p.m.
2805 St. Claude Ave., 504-342-2217