Laura Maniec, the master sommelier and smart brain behind Corkbuzz, the wine-focused restaurant with locations in New York and Charlotte, is adding something new to the market: The Cellar @ Corkbuzz.

Located in the space right next to Corkbuzz, in Sharon Square in SouthPark (right behind the Whole Foods on Fairview), the new space will be a wine retail store and wine bar with a small-plates menu. Maniec plans to open early next week.

Calling it “a little jewel box of a space,” Maniec gave us a look at the new space Wednesday: The chandelier and library ladder to slide around the shelves of wine are still coming, but the new tasting bar already has a cool cork front and the wine-cask tabletops are ready to go. At 850 square feet, it’s a third of the size of the 2400-square-foot restaurant, but will allow enough room to add more classes and tasting experiences.

Inspired by some of her favorite small wine bars in Paris, The Cellar @ Corkbuzz is designed to be a place where you can grab a glass of wine and sit with a plate of black pepper biscuits with prosciutto and beer mustard or Spanish-style tomato bread with white anchovies, or where you can grab a bottle of wine you’ve never tried before and take it home with you.

Having the small space next door also will allow Maniec to offer more private event space to go along with the small private dining room in the restaurant. The two spaces are already connected by a door in the dining room, and they’ll share the kitchen space and the patio out front.

Along with the new space, Maniec is starting a unique “wine profile” program: You’ll schedule a tasting with a wine expert taking you through different types of wine to help you figure out what kind of wine you like. Instead of being focused on particular wines, it will give you a set of descriptions you can use when you go into a wine store or restaurant to figure out what to order.

Maniec calls it “the makeup-counter experience,” when you sit down not sure which color is the right one for you.

“We want to empower (people) with their own wine knowledge. People don’t know what they like.”

The price is still being set, but it will probably cost about $25 and could be a group event or given as a gift for someone who wants to learn more about their own tastes in wine.

Prices at The Cellar will range from $8 and up, usually $12 to $13, for a glass, and the retail section will include a “value table” of wines you may not know well but want to try. Food prices for small plates will be in the $6 to $9 range.

Maniec divides her time between New York, where she has wine bars in Chelsea Market and in the Union Square area, and her 2-year-old Charlotte location. Yes, she’s big on Charlotte.

“Charlotte is one of the cities I think everyone should start thinking about. It’s a spirited place. It’s a small-town New York.”

This story originally ran at CharlotteObserver.com.
Photo: Kathleen Purvis
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