Don't let the name fool you.
"Parings" isn't misspelled and this suburban wine bar is more than a converted house that only serves the fruit of the grape. Tastefully decorated with soft holiday lights and inviting rooms that feature everything from comfy Victorian sofas to high-top tables and bar stools, Parings is delightfully different from standard clubs.
My husband, Dan, took a break from work and met me there on a recent Saturday evening. Greeted by the owner, Sheila Paolini, we were seated at a high-top for two (another pairing?) in the main bar area. While we chatted about a recent trip she took to the Benziger Family Winery in California, I asked Sheila to recommend a dry red for me. Dan ordered his new favorite gin, Hendricks, with tonic ($7).
As we settled in, the drinks arrived in memorable fashion: Sheila presented me with an Italian flight, a bargain at $10. The black rack holds a tipped trio of wine, which allows the lucky consumer to view the color and clarity of each serving. My flight included Il Bastardo Sangiovese, Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti and a Barolo. The three combined equal a little more than one glass. I enjoyed each of these lovely reds, especially the smooth and subtle taste of the Barolo, not often sold by the glass. The flight presentation is not only a conversation starter, but a wonderful way to sample a variety of wines without fear of overindulging and racking up a hefty tab.
Dan and I decided to nosh on a couple of appetizers from the small plate and apps menu. Recalling the award-winning offering from the Taste of Williamsville last summer, we ordered the Mediterranean Nachos, flash-fried pita chips under a blanket of feta, homemade hummus, olives and artichoke hearts. A perfect complement to my dry wine and Dan's cocktail, we left nary a crumb. We ordered another round – this time I had a delicious glass of Rioja, a Spanish blend with notes of cherry and spice. The bottle featured a label written in English and Braille!
As we relaxed in the cozy ambience, we sampled the Calamari, large breaded rings with a piquant topping of three different peppers, olives and garlic.
If you prefer your libation to have a head instead of legs, you won't be disappointed here. Paring's beer list takes up an entire page and ranges from local favorites brewed in Western New York to the standards and the trendy microbrews.
The two affable and busy bartenders were serving plenty of beer and wine along with specialty martinis like Gingerbread, Chocolate Espresso and Candy Cane. Couples and groups of friends relaxed in the front room, some enjoyed the lively conversation at the bar, while others chatted in the cozy corners of this comfortable and homey environment. It is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Come January, Parings will host a wine school. What a great way to start a new year!
>> Parings Wine Bar
Where: 5893 Main St., Williamsville (630-5951)
Scene: Casual, comfortably upscale ambience in a converted house; gracious and charming owner working the rooms. Ideal spot for dates or ladies/buddies night out.
Drinks: Varied vino list, martinis, extensive beer list (including micro and seasonal), full bar, holiday cocktails. Happy hour is 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with half-price martinis and 20 wines for $20. Every Wednesday, any bottle of wine is half price.
Dress code: "No dress code, just have to have clothes on," says owner Sheila Paolini.
Entertainment: Satellite radio.Bonus points: Double hooks under the bar for purses; free Wi-Fi; sparkling clean restrooms.