NEW IN TOWN: Vino Villa

Indianapolis has no shortage of terrific wine shops, from the downtown Kahn’s Fine Wine & Spirits (25 N. Pennsylvania St., 632-9463), with its basement tasting bar, to the informative social hub of Mass Ave Wine Shoppe (878 Massachusetts Ave., 972-7966). But what wine geek worth his leather-bound tasting journal wouldn’t prefer to uncork his purchase on the spot and share it with anybody within pouring distance? (And then, who thought a rambling three-story house in Old Town Greenwood would step into the breach?)

Vino Villa (200 N. Madison Ave., Greenwood, 670-2832), a new venture owned by wine enthusiast Paul Jacquin, brings the entire oenophile experience together under one roof. The first floor is fitted with wall-to-wall wine racks holding a well-edited selection of bottles with an obvious focus on good, affordable wines. Many bottles are priced well under $20. Refrigerated cases keep wheels of cheese, gourmet dips, and an entire grove of olives at the ready—because Jacquin has brilliantly outfitted the upper-level rooms in comfy sofas, deep armchairs, and handy side tables for on-the-spot imbibing.

On a rain-slicked Wednesday night, he had a full house. We polished off two bottles of soft, earthy Don Miguel Gascon Malbec and made a meal out of a pair of cheese plates (one garnished with pickled veggies and the other accompanied by a bit of grape-and-basil salad), a platter of olives, and a trio of dips. It was a lot to fit in before the 7 p.m. weeknight closing. At some point, we ended up with two bags of chocolate-covered pretzels. The owner popped in occasionally to refresh our pours and present a bottle of chilled-to-order white wine, clearly taking the growing pains in stride. “This is the quietest room in the house tonight,” he informed us before disappearing to check on a rowdy Baby Boomers’ night out across the hall.