I was cruising through the parking lot of my local grocery store searching for a spot to park when I noticed a new business that had recently moved into the small community of retail stores corralling the parking area. The design of the shared facade, a modern something or other style, had failed to attract my attention on any of my previous trips to pick up petit fours from the grocer’s bakery, but this time the name of the establishment caught my eye, Corks Wine and Spirits.
My stint as a wine taster is still in its infancy but I have had the opportunity, on several occasions, to taste the products from multiple cultivators of the vine. Enough that while I’m not ready to attend a wine auction or plunk down a wad of cash for any wine, and considering that my single wine cooler, modern though it is, has room for only eight bottles, I have already identified a couple of preferred items and try to keep them on hand at all times. My current favorite is a red muscadine from a winery in North Carolina, but the chance of finding the sweet concoction in Knoxville is only slightly greater than sighting a Sasquatch from my back deck. As a result, I have become accustomed to checking out new shops in hopes of finding a more steady supply.
Walking in the door of Corks I immediately noticed how bright and inviting the open floor plan made the space feel. Inventory was exhibited neatly in attractive shelving, the wooden built-in kind as opposed to the generic, off-white, adjustable merchandise displays more at home in an auto parts store or most convenience stores. Thankfully absent was the open case, package store style of merchandising so common where cases of the inventory are stacked on the floor with the topmost one opened with a box cutter to expose the bottles in their boxed state. Instead, the layout was much more conducive to an ambling stroll through the spacious store, browsing through the items without fear of turning around suddenly and being the cause for a precarious leaning-tower of product crashing to the ground.
The staff were well-groomed, neatly dressed and conveyed the image of a modern, casual sommelier instead of a hired dock worker outfitted for moving freight from the back room to the floor. The three associates that assisted me enthusiastically fielded my questions and were the right amount of helpful to address my interrogatories without smothering me and seeming pushy. When the first associate had responded to my initial inquiry, he moved on to allow my browsing session to continue unimpeded until my next query, which was answered by a different associate in the same manner. A third associate engaged me in an informative conversation about my second love, beer. Not the light, watery stuff you pick up after you pay for your gas, but beer with body and taste. A taste acquired during travels beyond the confines of my local neighborhood to sample potations from various countries and regions.
I did not find the particular wine that I start all of my searches with, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s what keeps me walking in those new doors and discovering new favorite places. In Corks Wine and Spirits I found an enjoyable retail establishment in which to spend a few minutes of my time. The staff are approachable, knowledgeable and extremely helpful. The inventory is well-displayed and varied to include the three major refreshment groups of wine, beer, and the hard stuff. Corks is a place I am sure to visit again.
© 2013 G. Scott Brinkley. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.