GianMarco’s wine bar and retail shop draw wine savvy patrons.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

GianMarco’s Restaurant has long had one of the finest and most flexible wine programs in Alabama. Brothers Giani and Marco Respinto own and operate the restaurant, and offer more than 300 select restaurant quality wines on the wine list. Wines are offered in servings of three ounces, six ounces, quantino, and by the bottle. And the price point for each and every wine is very competitive.

In late 2011, the restaurant expanded its wine program to include a separate wine bar and retail shop—GianMarco Wine. The seed of this addition was sprouted when Giani observed restaurant patrons—enjoying wine in the restaurant for lunch and dinner—asking where they could find the wine locally. Recognizing  the need and the opportunity for the restaurant to open its own wine bar and retail shop, he quietly began making plans. Soon afterwards he asked me to follow him behind the restaurant, saying he wanted to show me something. But before he would show me, Giani swore me to secrecy. We walked onto the storage shed’s vine covered porch. He slowly opened the door. But inside I saw no storage. Instead there were empty wine racks and a partially completed wine bar. And I became almost as excited as he was as he shared his vision.

Today GianMarco Wine is beginning its second year of successful business and has a life of its own. Tonight the wine racks are full and so is every table and wine bar seat. People walk around and select wine from the retail racks and enjoy it at their wine candle lit barrel tables and at the Wine Bar—for the retail shop price. Others stop in to buy a bottle to take home. And the diversity of the wines pleases all. There is a table of 20 something women, drinking Cordero Montzemolo Arneis 2010 with an appetizer of Torti Rustic, a pizza shaped pasta dish. An older couple enjoys dinner at the next table with a bottle of their favorite French Champagne—Delamotte Brut NV paired with Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo. And a man at the bar sips Travaglini Gattinara with Veal Chop Parmigana. No alcohol, other than wine, is served here, which has worked well in drawing the wine savvy. Nor are reservations taken at GianMarco Wine. Thus many arrive early to secure a table while others come in at leisure and stay late. And if you want to buy a bottle during lunch hours, just ask anyone in the restaurant for help with the retail shop. It will be opened for you.

Published, B-Metro magazine, November, 2012

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