Friday, February 23, 2024

The Taste

Custom tastings on-tap at self-serve wine bar

Maybe it’s happened to you: you’re out for the evening and eager to have a glass of wine. You decide to try something new, maybe even splurge a little, but after two sips you realize that $12 glass of Barolo just isn’t for you.

If that sounds familiar, The Taste Wine Bar is for you.

A self-serve wine bar that allows patrons to choose a precise pour of one, three or five ounces from a rotating selection of twenty wines on tap, The Taste is accessed with a smart card which keeps track of your tab as you spend the evening discovering new wines. The Taste isn’t a restaurant, so guests are encouraged to bring in their own food.

“We’ve had some people come in with their picnic baskets, and they have the whole spread,” Na Tasha Shabazz, The Taste’s co-owner and frontwoman, said. In the same Central Avenue plaza, just west of McCord Rd., as Marco’s, Kyoto Ka and Cake in a Cup, some guests pick up food from those neighboring businesses on the way in.

A business 10 years in the making

Shabazz, a BGSU alumnus who has been in the Toledo area for more than 15 years, experienced a self-serve wine bar nearly 10 years ago while visiting Washington D.C. She was still a wine newbie then but said she was amazed by the concept. “It piqued my interest,” she explains. “At that time I wasn’t as knowledgeable or interested in wine as I am now, but I still had a very good time and I was able to sample a variety at my own pace. I tucked that idea into the back of my head.”

In the meantime, her interest in wine grew, particularly as it related to food. “I started being interested in how wine and food can go hand-in-hand and change the whole experience,” she said.

Two years ago, Shabazz noticed microbreweries were popping up around the Toledo area.

“But I love wine— no offense to beer,” she said. “There really wasn’t a place to just enjoy a glass of wine without having a big meal at a restaurant or being at a place where you could barely hear the person next to you. That’s what got the ball rolling.”


She did lots of research, tracking down self-serve wine bars in the Midwest and reaching out to them with questions, looking at reports on increasing wine consumption among millennials and assessing the ability of the Toledo area to support such a venture. “The demographics suggested that this would be a good opportunity,” she said.

So far, the results back that up. The Taste opened its doors on May 25— National Wine Day— and held its official grand opening on July 27. Shabazz said there were about 200 people at the ribbon-cutting, with a standing-room-only crowd for wine and live music all evening.

The atmosphere is laid-back chic, with several seating groups of armchairs down the middle of the space and high tables along the walls, offering flexibility for accommodating intimate groups or large parties. Shabazz designed the space to encourage people to enjoy wine in a relaxed atmosphere. . . “One of the main goals was to provide a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy a glass of wine, and a communal environment that’s not intimidating,” she said.

The Taste Wine Bar
4-10pm, Tuesday-Wednesday.
4-11pm, Thursday-Saturday.
6801 Central Ave., 419-517-0515.

Previous articleThat’s The Way It Is
Next articleThe Art of Punk Rock

Recent Articles