Wineside in Minnetonka offers 104 wines on tap and delicatessens

A serve-your-own wine bar opening today in Minnetonka will be a unique addition to the western suburbs — and beyond.

“There’s nothing quite like it in Minnesota,” said Jon Halper, owner and CEO of Top Ten Liquors and Wineside, the new interactive restaurant and market.

It’s not that tap walls and card payout devices are new – you can find them at First Draft and Malcolm Yards Market, to name just two – but Wineside is unique in the sheer number of features. options. There are 104 wines on tap.

Plus, almost everything served at the restaurant, from bubbles and cheese to charcuterie and canned fish, is available for purchase at the attached liquor store or gourmet deli.

“The goal here is to come and have all these different tasting experiences, and if you like the things you eat, if you like wine, you can take them home,” Halper said. “It just ties it all together.”

Here’s how it works: Guests entering the complex near Ridgedale Center, in what was once a Champps, can walk straight into the massive new liquor store. Or, turn right and enter a market filled with local and imported artisan goods, such as colorful wrappers of 2-foot-long spaghetti and delicate cakes from John Kraus of Patisserie 46. At a welcome stand, you can link your credit or debit card to a card that operates the wine machines. Then scan your card at the station that has the wine you wish to try, select your pour size (their price is accordingly) and collect your vino. The card will keep a running tab of your purchases.

To accompany the wine, there’s a menu from Twin Cities chef JD Fratzke, who is well known since running the famed St. Paul Strip Club Meat & Fish restaurant. He’s created a list of friendly sharing small plates and boards — and a few entrees, like meatballs in red sauce and salmon — that lean towards the Mediterranean, particularly Spanish-style tapas.

“The idea came up that people sort of curate their own experience,” Fratzke said, referring to the extensive wine selection. “I wanted to make sure that was reflected in the dining experience as well.”

An abundance of canned fish preserves from around the world is a way to create your own tasting, whether at home or in a restaurant.

“It’s going to be this very simple experience of sipping your wine, focusing on that, and then – wow, I didn’t know a box could taste like this,” Fratzke said. “We give people the opportunity to taste a lot of things they might not have had before.”

It all comes together, of course, the wine — “the largest assortment by the glass for hundreds and hundreds of miles,” Halper said.

Behind this assortment is Siri Nyman, the wine buyer who assembled Wineside’s main draw.

“I think of wine selection a bit like how an artist or producer would look at an album,” Nyman said. “Or more aptly would be a conductor. I see wine as an orchestra piece in its own right. How are my white wines, how are my reds, and of those, who does the viola and the bass? That’s what I think of when I’m making the list.”

Wineside, at 1641 Plymouth Road, Minnetonka, 952-600-7093, wineside.com, opens daily at 9 a.m. for coffee and 11 a.m. for lunch and dinner.

Shirley M. Pinder