The bar at the back of Grippy Tannins, a wine shop and tasting lounge that opened six months ago on Middle Street in Portland. Photos by Angie Bryan

When you walk into Grippy Tannins, you feel like you’ve just walked into a close friend’s living room. A close friend who lines the walls of her living room with bottles of wine, that is.

It’s exactly the kind of vibe owner Lindsey Murray was going for when she opened the wine shop and tasting lounge in Portland’s India Street neighborhood six months ago. The space combines coziness and an airy, clean, fresh feeling in a way that makes customers want to kick off their shoes, curl up in one of the comfy chairs, and slowly work their way through the tasting menu, which is exactly what my drinking companion and I did (well, except for the shoes part).

Grippy Tannins’ tasting menu includes a selection of about a dozen half and full glasses of wine.

As explained on the shop’s website, grippy tannins are “a structural component of wine that provides character and texture and frames your drinking experience” – much like this column. The tasting menu changes daily, and everything on the menu is for sale in the shop. As long as your group (or, as I like to think of it, my entourage) commits to purchasing two glasses from a particular bottle, Murray will open almost any bottle of wine (with a few pricy exceptions) in the store. The selection focuses on small production wines and emerging winemakers.

The day we were there, the tasting menu featured 11 choices: one bubbly, four whites, four reds and two ports. Prices ranged from $4 to $8 for a half glass and $7 to $14 for a full glass. My friend and I shared five half glasses: a $4 sparkling red from Greece (less sweet than the Italian sparkling reds we had previously encountered), a $4 South African chardonnay-sauvignon blanc blend, a $4 Greek white wine, a $7 Russian River Valley chardonnay and a $5 syrah viognier. Murray was the perfect tour guide for our liquid explorations – friendly and knowledgeable without even a hint of pretentiousness. By the time we were on our second round, we both wanted to be friends with her.

A $15 cheese plate is among the rotating selection of snacks.

Grippy Tannins also has a small menu of nibbles; we went for the $7 warm pretzel with mustard and the $15 cheese board. Served on slate platters, the food looked like something out of a magazine. Like the wine tasting menu, the food offerings change daily.

Grippy Tannins has already become a popular venue for corporate wine tastings and bachelorette parties. It also has a strong selection of chilled bottles of wine for sale. In addition, Murray hosts frequent special events such as bubbly-themed tastings, flights of rosé appropriate for winter and more. Once spring arrives, she hopes to have some outdoor seating as well. Until then, however, it’s the perfect place to spend a snow day.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

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