Sip your heart out at the Short North's Tastings wine bar.
The space at 958 N. High St. in the Short North seems destined for wine. After Camelot Cellars moved to Olde Towne East, Tastings—A Wine Experience took over the site, renovated it and kept the vino flowing. The wine bar and restaurant originated in Indianapolis, and the Columbus outpost, which opened in May 2017, is its second location.
The atmosphere is lively and casual, with bar seating and two sections of four-tops. The décor hits all the expected notes: exposed brick walls, fixtures with Edison bulbs, small centerpieces with succulents and vintner-themed artwork on the walls.
The focus, as you can imagine, is wine served in three formats: self-service samples, by the glass or by the bottle. The centerpiece of the establishment is a collection of four Enomatic wine dispensers, each with 18 different wines on offer. The tasting stations are grouped by varietal and region, and each wine sports an engaging and informative description. Guests can sample 2-, 4- or 8-ounce pours that range in price from $2–$5 for the smallest pours and $6–$9 for the largest samples.
Guests are given a microchipped card that can be preloaded with any dollar amount; you simply insert the card into the slot on the tasting station, select the pour from one of the available wines, hold your glass under the nozzle and push a button. The cards don't expire, so guests can return with them at any time. It's an entertaining way to try multiple wines, especially with a group. (It's also easy to burn through the dollars on the card.)
Although wine is the focus, food and other beverages haven't been neglected, so a large party with varying tastes should find something to appeal to everyone. Beers include a dozen bottles and four drafts split evenly between craft selections and macro lagers. The cocktail menu features seven of the usual suspects, like the Black Manhattan ($12) with rye whiskey, Averna and bitters. A supplementary cocktail list includes seasonal offerings; on a recent visit the menu featured a Buckeye theme, with cocktails like the Woodford Hayes ($13) made with Woodford Reserve, ruby Port and lemon juice, or the autumnal JT Barrel ($13) crafted from Four Roses Single Barrel, maple syrup and apple cider.
Tastings also features a full-service kitchen to produce everything from elevated bar snacks to full entrées. Cheese and salami plates can be customized with two to eight selections ($10–$38), while the Dips & Tapas selection includes bowls of spiced nuts ($5) and prosciutto-wrapped figs ($8). More substantial offerings include soups, salads and sandwiches ($5–$16), as well as flatbread pizzas ($9–$12) and bistro plates like shrimp ceviche ($11) and jumbo lump crab cakes ($15).
Servers roam from table to table, taking orders, explaining the tasting stations and shuttling food. They welcome questions about the wines because, as our server noted, “It's my job to know them all!”
Someone's got to do it.