Some of us believe that to shop for wine, we have to know about wine. Unwilling to admit you don’t know all that much, you coolly answer, “I’m just looking,” when the sales clerk offers help. So, you snatch a bottle, glossing over a label that might as well be in Latin. (Um, what are tannins, again?)
Gabe Daigle wants to make wine-shopping approachable and affordable. With his brother Jacob, he’s opened Mid City Craft Wine and Brew for that purpose.
“Our goal is to be a value-driven shop where you can buy two or three bottles of wine and go to your friend’s house and enjoy them,” Daigle says, adding that bottle prices average around $15.
The former wine director at Alexander’s Highland Market—and a co-owner of the former downtown bar Red Star—Daigle worked in wine distribution for 12 years. He’s curated each bottle of wine, liquor and Louisiana beer sold at Mid City Craft Wine and Brew. He’s quick to help customers choose the right wine, whether to pair with a meal or sip outside on a summer evening.
“Our goal is to take the stuffiness out of wine and to make you feel like there are no bad questions,” he says. “We kind of want to make it fun.”
Wine tastings are part of that fun. Mid City Craft Wine and Brew will host free tastings on Thursdays, 5-8 p.m. (This week’s wines are from Spain.) Daigle says he might also hold tastings on Sundays to cater to those in the service industries. He also plans to host special events when winemakers are in town.
Daigle hired local artist T. J. Black to redesign the space. Black transformed the former women’s clothing boutique into a sleek wine shop within a month. The “wine wall,” which takes its design from a wine shop in Australia, anchors the store and showcases domestic wines. The center island, made of wood and steel, houses several European bottles. Overall, the shop has an industrial-but-inviting feel.
The shop’s open floor plan and location in the Goodwood Village shopping center on Jefferson Highway make it an apt venue for events like White Night Light. In fact, the shop opened its doors for the first time for last weekend’s Hot Art Cool Nights.
“A lot of interesting things are happening on Government Street and in Mid City,” Daigle says. “We wanted to enjoy growing with this part of town.”
Though Mid City Craft Wine and Brew is unique to the neighborhood, Daigle drew inspiration from businesses in New Orleans.
“Bottle shops are popping up everywhere. I lived in New Orleans for four years and sold wine in that market. There were lots of neighborhood wine shops that resemble what we’re doing here. You can say I’ve learned from some of the best in New Orleans,” he says.