Neighborhood store offers expansive options
Four years ago Matt Miller and Sam Hovland went from working in the wine and service industry to running their own wine shop.
Miller said he decided to open his own business after years in the wine industry because he thought Austinites needed a store that focused on smaller-brand names and had a neighborly feel.
"I had been in the wine business since 2000, and I think it was just the idea that there wasn't enough small-bottle shops," Miller said. "There's much more big-box stores, and we wanted to have more of a small, intimate boutique, so to speak."
East End Wines operates out of the former house of Austin's first black pharmacist, Miller said, making the site a historic landmark. The idea of being another house on the block intrigued Miller, who said he enjoys being part of the East Austin area.
"I was pretty quick to decide I wanted to be over here," he said. "The demographic was ripe over here. You have an eclectic mix of people, an enthusiastic group of people—people who appreciate small, locally owned businesses. We're just a house in the neighborhood, and these people are our neighbors."
East End Wines is run by a three-person team, which Miller and Hovland agreed is what helps sets the store apart from other wine providers in the area.
"We tend to find small producers, more unique wines that you're not going to find in your box stores or your grocery stores or anything like that," Miller said. "We tend to be more in line with restaurant lists. We actually curate the shop similar to how a restaurant would."
"We're able to taste through all the wines. There's a high chance that we've not only had the wine but that we've had it recently," he said. "Your chance of finding someone on the floor [at a larger store] who's actually tasted through all of them is going to be much harder."
Miller said he included Hovland in the business after meeting him through previous jobs. Hovland's experience and knowledge of wine is the main reason they are able to stock the shop in such a unique way, Miller said.
Even though East End Wines offers a unique selection, Miller said he has kept a focus on keeping prices affordable.
The shop also offers wine-tasting classes and event reservations.
For Tex-Mex food, wine buyer Sam Hovland suggests a wine to counteract the spiciness while also cleansing the palate.
"Sparkling wines and sparkling rosettes, that are kind of palate-cleansing and help deal with the fat of some of those preparations when there's a deep-fried component" pair best with Tex-Mex food, Hovland said.
Boudreaux varieties are also recommended by Hovland. Verdelho wines from Spain give a clean, zippy taste that matches the lime flavor of Mexican dishes, he said.
With Texas being famous for its barbecue, Hovland said what some suggest as the ultimate barbecue wine may not be the best match.
"Zinfandel is often claimed as the ultimate pairing for barbecue, but with Texas barbecue and how much pepper there is, we try to avoid the really alcoholic versions," he said.
Hovland also suggested staying away from tannic wines and leaning toward more medium-weight wines because of the traditional peppery rub of Texas barbecue.
East End Wines, 1209 Rosewood Ave., 512-904-9056, www.eastendwinesatx.com