FOOD

Linworth’s Aardvark Wine & Beer Offers Springtime Wine Recommendations

The new shop from Donnie Austin and Megan Cavanaugh capitalizes on Austin’s wine knowledge and a beverage inventory stocked with family-owned labels.

Erin Edwards
Columbus Monthly
Megan Cavanaugh and Donnie Austin, the married duo behind Aardvark Wine & Beer, enjoying wine with a pizza from neighboring JT’s Pizza & Pub

Known around Columbus as one of the area’s most knowledgeable wine professionals, Donnie Austin has been without a wine shop since leaving Worthington’s House Wine in 2019, where he had been an owner and operating partner. Luckily for Central Ohio wine lovers, that changed last holiday season when he and his wife, Megan Cavanaugh, opened Aardvark Wine & Beer in Linworth.

The colorful shop focuses on high-quality wines in the $10–$30 range, because “that’s mostly what people buy for everyday consumption,” Austin says. It also offers a nifty craft beer selection. You’re not likely to find big brand names at Aardvark, such as Anheuser-Busch beers or Barefoot Wines. Instead, Aardvark prioritizes beverages from family-owned producers, distributors and importers.

“We only have so much space, so we want to focus on the partners that are a good fit for what we do and our values and what we care about,” Austin says.

Donnie Austin, co-owner of Aardvark Wine & Beer, recommends these five bottles for springtime, perhaps for a sunny Saturday on the patio or with dinner off the grill.

One of those values is offering a solid nonalcoholic beer and wine selection. Plus, Austin says the demand has been strong for NA beverages, such as beers from Athletic Brewing or dealcoholized riesling from Leitz, a German winery.

Aardvark already has plans to expand. Behind the current shop is about another 1,800 square feet—once home to a scuba diving school. (You can still see the shape of the filled-in pool.) Though Aardvark already hosts $10 wine tastings every weekend, it will soon have its license for on-premises consumption. Austin envisions the back space as a seating area where customers can uncork a bottle of wine, maybe while eating slices from JT’s Pizza & Pub across the street.

Why the name aardvark? The goal wasn’t to be No. 1 in the phone book, Austin insists, explaining that he and his wife liked the whimsy of the name; it’s also easy to remember. Plus, long-nosed aardvarks have an outstanding sense of smell—thanks to possessing more turbinate bones (the paper-thin bones that are key to olfaction) than any other mammal. Ideal for smelling a wine’s bouquet, perhaps.

With springtime upon us, we asked Austin to sniff out a handful of wine recommendations. His brief? To suggest wines ideal for a sunny Saturday—one that transitions from an afternoon on the patio to dinner off the grill.

Aardvark Wine & Beer2355 W. Dublin-Granville Road, Linworth, 614-467-9800, aardvarkwineandbeer.com

Donnie Austin and Megan Cavanaugh outside Aardvark Wine & Beer in Linworth. The married couple opened the shop in 2022.

Donnie Austin’s Springtime Wine Picks

Whites

Anne Amie Vineyards Müller-Thurgau ($18)

“Widely planted in Germany, the Müller-Thurgau varietal has found a home elsewhere in Europe and even Oregon. This estate planting from over 40 years ago brings a variety of aromatic fruits and spices but a dry, crisp finish.”

Mary Taylor Anjou Blanc ($16)

“Anjou is the region in Loire Valley, France, that produces this delicious, refreshing white wine. Mary Taylor partners with small growers across Europe to highlight their region and terroir.”

“Skin-Contact” Varietals

Field Recordings ‘Skins’ ($20)

“You use red wine grapes to make rosé, but you make orange wine with white wine grapes. This kitchen sink blend creates a rich, fun and quirky orange wine that’s more savory than fruity.”

Reds

Valle Dell’Acate ‘Il Frappato’ ($24)

“This Sicilian red, often served slightly chilled, is lighter and perfect for warmer days ahead but still brings some intrigue. It offers bright red berries with lip-smacking acidity.”

Marietta ‘OVR’ ($17)

“Grilling? Ordering pizza? Marietta’s Old Vine Red is a Zinfandel-based red blend that’s been around decades before California ‘red blends’ were a thing. The quality surpasses big brands twice the price and keeps the alcohol in check. Think: dark fruit and warm spices.”

Try the Wine Club

Those resolved to expand their wine palate in 2023 should check out Aardvark’s budget-friendly Cub Club. For $30 a month, members will receive two wines that the shop’s team have handpicked, along with write-ups and food pairing suggestions. Visit aardvarkwineandbeer.com/wine-clubs to sign up.

This story is from the April 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.