I don’t much care whether my fruit is organic or not, as long as it tastes good, but if I were forced to choose a preference, it would be fermented, hands down. So when I read about The Holly Natural Wine Bar & Shop, the fact that the new Near Southside establishment purveys only natural wine wasn’t what interested me. As Renée Zellweger famously declared in Jerry Maguire, “You had me at ‘wine bar.’ ”
The Holly participated in Merry on Magnolia + Main last weekend, when close to 20 businesses on West Magnolia Avenue and South Main Street offered goodies like a free cocktail here, a discount there. Naturally, my friends and I made the merchant crawl an outing. Stir Crazy’s complimentary poinsettias meant I was already feelin’ merry when we arrived at The Holly later that afternoon.
The nubile wine bar on the corner of West Daggett and Galveston avenues is tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of South Main. The splash of white on the front window panel pops against the building’s black painted-brick exterior and teal door. Inside, the coral from its logo is brought out in the design of the quaint shop with a simple yet chic Southwestern style. And what’s an outdoor patio without strung Edison bulbs and a walk-up window to the bar?
If you’re curious about the wine The Holly serves, look no further than its name. It’s natural. You can tell because the content is singular: grapes. “No more and no less,” as our server in blue checkered bell bottoms put it. Those grapes are grown sustainably and without preservatives and hand-picked before undergoing the natural fermentation and winemaking process sans additives.
While The Holly doesn’t craft the hootch itself, per its website, the bar and shop “celebrates small batch natural wines and the renegades and rebels who make them.” With an entire section dedicated to shelves of bottles and books about natural winemaking, as well as handwritten cards with the stories behind each wine and its vintner, the shop certainly lives up to its promise.
On Saturday afternoon, The Holly brimmed with people engaged in loud, lively conversation. A mustached man with long braided pigtails approached us with menus and gave us the gist of the place and its fare, while an older beige doggo with a kindly mug — Kirby, per his collar — greeted us with an inquisitive sniff. It wasn’t until we meandered over to Kendall Davis Clay in the adjacent, connected suite that we discovered whence Kirby had come.
I’ve made no secret of my lack of sophistication in this publication. Besides knowing that I generally enjoy malbecs, I leave it to the professionals to tell me what’s good. So when I say the menu confused me, understand that it may not be the problem. It took me a hot sec to realize it first states the type of grape used in the concoction, then the winery. Apparently, with natural wine, the fruit gets top billing — fittingly, since the only other ingredients are the yeast and tiny bit of sulfur necessary to catalyze the fermentation process.
The Holly Natural Wine Bar and Shop
Tasting flights $16 for three 3-oz. pours
Cheese plate $28
Sticking with bubbly, I elected to try the flight of naturally fermented wines, or “pét-nat” — short for “pétillant-naturel,” meaning “naturally sparkling” in French. To create that natural fizz, the wine is bottled before it’s completely fermented — as opposed to injecting it later with sugar and starch.
The first, Bainbridge Johnny Popper, a crisp white from France similar to champagne, lightly stung the inside of my nose. The second, a red whose cloudy pink hue was more befitting of a strawberry drink, and the third, a similarly murky yet darker shade of burgundy, had visible particles at the bottom. That somehow felt comforting. After all, is it really natural wine if there isn’t a little “dirt” in it?
I’m ashamed to say I could barely distinguish between the two reds. Aside from appearance, flavor-wise, each of the 3-ounce samplers tasted deliciously dry with robust earthy notes. I would sooner blame my juvenile palate than the quality of the vino.
Like any self-respecting thirtysomething woman, I love a good “charcute.” The highlight of my day, the cheese plate hit the spot with its perfectly arranged green olives, crackers, salami, marcona almonds, and selection of truly exquisite cheeses. The wine may have brought me to The Holly, but that Italian truffle wedge is what will lure me back time and time again.
The Holly Natural Wine Bar and Shop
305 W Daggett Av, Ste 101, FW. 817-420-6446. 1pm-6pm Sun, 1pm-9pm Wed-Sat. Bottle shop by appointment Mon-Tue.