In Berlin, I used to go to the Winerei, a wine bar near my house that operated under the honor system. Kind of like a Beer Bust, you pay 1 euro for a glass, and then drink the nightly sampling of wine. At the end of the night, you pay the equivalent of what you think the wine was worth–or you don’t pay anything.
Despite serving expensive wines to poor artists, somehow the Winerei managed to stay open–but that wasn’t the amazing thing. For me, the Winerei takes the snobbery out of wine by making good wine accessible to everyone. And while we’re never gonna have an honor system-based wine bar in Austin, Aviary off of South Lamar comes pretty close to duplicating the casual atmosphere you often find at wine bars in Europe.
Sandwiched between Birds Barbershop and Black Sheep Lodge, Aviary has quickly become my number one chillout spot. It’s stumbling distance from my house, and after being in foggy San Francisco for work for almost 2 months, all I want to do is just enjoy late “spring” in Austin. Over the last few weeks, that means hanging out on Aviary’s porch, drinking wine and watching the colors change as the sun slowly sinks below the horizon.
Originally a home decor shop that sold wine, Aviary has grown into a wine bar that happens to sell furniture. Not surprisingly, walking into Aviary is like walking into a super chill gathering at someone’s home. Plus, there’s zero pretense, just people drinking wine and having a good time.
Originally from Buenos Aires, the owner, Marco Fiorillo, brings an Old World charm that sets the tone for the experience. Authentically friendly, Marco introduces himself as if you are a friend of one of his buds. He also has the ability to size you up and guess what type of wine you’ll like.
For summer, I love anything with bubbles. Reds are too heavy. Whites are too sweet. But something about adding bubbles to either, and it helps beat the heat.
This is a Canals & Munné Cava. It’s not too sweet. It’s also not too dry.
This is a Montmarte Rosé Sec. A sparkling rosé, it’s also not as sweet as its pink label suggests. It has more of a cranberry flavor with a bit of a mineral finish.
And this is a Rabaso Fiore. A red with tiny bubbles, it’s effing amazing.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, they’ve got damn fine drink specials every night. My favorite is Wednesday for half-off bottles of wine. And unlike other South Lamar hot spots, Aviary has its own parking lot.
Oh, and if you’re lucky, you can meet Marco’s son, Enzo. He’s quite possibly the most brilliant 5-year old I’ve ever met.
DEETS ABOUT AVIARY:
- WHERE: 110 South Lamar, 78704 (near Oltorf), 512.916.4445
- WHEN: Tuesday – Saturday: 11A-Mid; Sunday: 1P-10P