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Local wine lounge turns beginners to experts

Nathan Graves

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Wine bottles of various types are on display for visitors on the bar at Monks Wine Lounge. Photo credit: Jenelle Kapellas

Wine is one of mankind’s oldest and most prized drinks. Humans were making wine as far back as our knowledge of history goes. The drink has transcended over time and can be found worldwide across nearly every culture.

Wine does not have quite the same association with college drinking that beer or hard liquor has. Many college students love Winebag Wednesday, but wine does not play the same role in the college drinking culture that other alcoholic beverages do. If not for the taste, college students may like wine for the appreciable alcohol content. On average, wine contains 12.5 to 15.5 percent alcohol, which is noticeably higher than beer, according to AlcoholContents.com.

Even to the novice drinker, delicately holding a glass of wine gives quite a different impression than gripping a beer or choking down a fifth of Burnett’s. Wine is generally thought of as a more elegant and lavish member of the alcohol family. In many minds, it bears a connotation with refinement and class, though wine is certainly not reserved for those settings alone.

If you have ever taken a glance down the wine aisle, you have noticed there are many different types of wines and wine grapes, always with countless variations. Merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir— the list goes on. What are the differences? How will it taste? What knowledge do you need when wine shopping? There is a large school of knowledge surrounding wine. This can be intimidating when first trying to dip your toes in this expansive world, but the best way to start is by jumping in. Becoming wine-savvy is built only through experience and time.

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Monks Wine Lounge is located close to campus at 128 W. 2nd St. Photo credit: Jenelle Kapellas

Monk’s Wine Lounge is a local wine bar where visitors can expand their knowledge of the dynamic drink over a pleasant evening. Monk’s is a short walk from campus located at 128 W. 2nd St.

Keeley Coy is the owner of Monk’s. She and her husband, Kevin Coy, bought the wine bar 10 years ago. At the time, the business was only 15 months old and struggling to stay afloat. Coy is a wine connoisseur; her husband’s area of expertise is beer.

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Dining area inside of Monks Wine Lounge on Wednesday. Photo credit: Jenelle Kapellas

The Coys immediately made changes to the bar. They expanded the wine list, introduced authentic Italian cuisine and crafted a new ambiance for the interior.

The couple was married in Lucca, Italy, where they were involved with various family restaurants and experienced what would lead them to bring Italian-inspired food to Monk’s, Coy said. Food, as it turns out, is a very important aspect of enjoying wine.

“Wine can be had on its own, but of course it was really meant to be paired with food,” Coy said.

There are many popular and common combinations, which include white wine with fish, merlot with wild game, cabernet franc with steak, chardonnay with buttery foods and others, according to Coy. One common thought is to contrast the sweetness, or perhaps lack thereof, with that of your plate.

“There is no right or wrong answer to what you should and shouldn’t do,” Coy said.

Coy suggests trying any combination the drinker pleases but warns that everyone’s palette is different.

“The bottom line is you ought to be drinking wine you enjoy,” she said.

Monk’s provides many opportunities for anyone to come in and learn more about wine through tasting. The location offers a variety of wines hailing from as far as France or Argentina as well as local wines from around Chico. Every bottle is unique; no two wines are alike.

“That’s what makes it so exciting,” Coy said. “You’re always learning something new.”

Nathan Graves can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Local wine lounge turns beginners to experts