The wine studio, a.k.a. the inside of Commonwealth Tap in Norton Commons
The wine studio, a.k.a. the inside of Commonwealth Tap in Norton Commons

Following a week-long soft opening that was unexpectedly busy, Commonwealth Tap, 9411 Norton Commons Blvd., had its official ribbon cutting last Friday to a good crowd eager for a higher-end, but not higher-priced, watering hole in Norton Commons.

Using a nitrogen-charged wine tap system, the unique “wine studio” serves premium wines in 2 oz., 4 oz. and 8 oz. pours for prices averaging about $1 per oz.

According to Neil Morgan, one of three operating partners in the business, eight of the wines are tapped from 20-liter casks, while about an equal number are drawn from pricier 750ml bottles.

All are held at 58 F, a true cellar temperature regularly overlooked by restaurants and home collectors. (Hint 1: Cool your red wines also to that temperature, about an hour in the fridge. You’ll be amazed at how much better they taste.)

 A wide range of wines, beers and whiskeys can be purchased to go at Commonwealth Tap
A wide range of wines, beers and whiskeys can be purchased to go at Commonwealth Tap

“You can tell the difference, can’t you,” asked Morgan as I sipped a glass of Terra Rosa Malbec drawn off a cask tap. “It goes into the glass at 58 (F), but it probably warms to about 62 (F) with the switch.”

Such is the speech of a self-dubbed wine geek who, like his operating partners, Kenny Anderozzi and Alex Tinker, is bent on elevating the wine drinking experience for his customers.

The three men have spent a good deal of time in West Coast wineries pursuing their passion and seeking out high-quality lesser-known brands they believe drinkers will appreciate.

Anderozzi is the group’s lone professional, formerly serving as sales rep for a large regional wine distributor and formerly as manager of The Wine Market in Louisville.

“We’re not pouring Kendall Jackson by the glass; we’re serving really nice wines, like Lioco Chardonnay for $8 for an 8-ounce pour,” Morgan said.

(Hint 2: I can’t think of many – any? – restaurant that serves an 8-ounce pour. Typically they’re closer to 5 ounces and a generous pour would climb to 7 ounces. These are good deals.)

“That’s a really good price, way less than what you’d pay in a really good restaurant. And you don’t even have to have such a large pour. You could get just 2 ounces if you liked.”

Especially if you just want to try some high-end vinos. Morgan said he’ll be tapping $80 bottles from which he’ll sell 2 oz. pours for $8.

“That might sound high for a small pour, but you’re getting to try an $80 bottle of wine without spending that $80,” said Morgan. Liter and half-liter samples also can be purchased, in addition to flights. “We really want people to have an opportunity to try new things without spending a ton of money. They learn a lot that way.”

Don’t like wine? There are eight craft beers on tap, an abundance of bourbon and whiskey choices, plus package sales.

3 Comm-Tap-signThink you might want to learn about wines? In the coming weeks, regular classes will be scheduled, some of which will included a Skype-link appearance of actual winemakers.

“Nobody in the city is doing this, and we really think the time is right for this option,” Morgan said. “We’re going to be doing some exciting things.”

Commonwealth Tap’s website isn’t ready yet, but if you want tuned, friend its Facebook page.

It’s open Monday-Friday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.

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