By Milan Ballard
Photos by Untold Imagery
Red, white, rosé or even orange, an individual’s personal wine preference is as unique as the occasions they celebrate with it. From festive events to casual weekends, the urge to acquire that perfect bottle of wine often drives consumers to wine shops for their expertise and advice on the best selection.
No matter the question, occasion or celebration, Finch Fine Wines stands ready as a boutique wine shop to meet a customer’s every need.
As the latest wine shop to open its doors in Mountain Brook, Finch Fine Wines has quickly become a gem in Birmingham’s wine scene, offering a unique experience for enthusiasts and newcomers alike. Since its establishment in November 2019, the boutique wine shop has become a go-to for those seeking exceptional wines and a memorable journey into the world of viticulture.
With its carefully curated selection, commitment to customer education and innovative approach to wine retail, Finch Fine Wines is carving its own niche in the industry.
Growing up in Mountain Brook, Ed Finch, founder of Finch Fine Wines, did not foresee himself entering the world of retail as a shop owner.
Through his commitment to quality, his own love for wine and his belief that “wine makes every experience a little bit more memorable,” Ed decided to embark on the journey to create a truly unique wine shop. Unlike conventional wine shops, Finch Fine Wines stands out for its distinct approach to curating the perfect collection for customers to peruse.
Instead of flooding their shelves with an overwhelming variety of wines, the team puts emphasis on quality over quantity. Each bottle is carefully selected, tasted and evaluated before joining the inventory.
The intention is to offer the best wine at every price point, ensuring that customers are presented with a concise selection of exceptional choices, no matter their budget.
Instead of bombarding customers with hundreds of wines, this approach simplifies the decision-making process for customers while showcasing lesser-known producers and classic styles.
“Rather than stock 20 pinots at $20, we may have one or two of the best in the market,” says Nate Dauphin, Finch Fine Wines General Manager and Sommelier.
However, despite the smaller selection, the shop keeps the inventory exciting.
Their assortment, which includes wines from more than 20 different countries, is rotated monthly, if not weekly, so customers always have the chance to try something new. While the in-store collection remains meticulously curated, customers can explore an extensive online inventory of more than 3,000 bottles, with a staggering selection of 10,000 bottles on the horizon.
At Finch Fine Wines, the belief prevails that a higher price tag doesn’t always equate to a superior wine, although in-store, customers can find wines of all price ranges, spanning from $12 up to $700 per bottle.
As the wine industry constantly evolves, Finch Fine Wines keeps a finger on the pulse of these changes. One prominent trend, according to Nate, is the preference for dry wines with minimal sugar content.
“Most people don’t like the idea of sweet wine anymore,” he says.
This aligns with the shop’s dedication to offering wines that emphasize balance and sophistication. The shift toward European wines, mainly from France and Italy, is another noticeable trend.
These wines often showcase a more nuanced and balanced character, compared to the boldness often found in California wines. A critical factor in Finch Fine Wines’ success is the expertise and experience that Nate offers as a certified sommelier.
His journey through the world of wine has taken him to Turkey and Greece, among other countries. With a scientific background in biomedical engineering, Nate brings a unique perspective to his role, particularly when it comes to food and wine pairings, emphasizing classic wines from renowned regions that exhibit a strong sense of terroir.
His dedication to discovering and promoting new and diverse wines ensures that the shop’s inventory remains fresh and exciting.
In addition to a beautiful selection of highly curated wines, Finch Fine Wines goes beyond the traditional wine shop experience by offering a range of exciting services. The shop hosts free in-store tastings every other Friday, giving customers the opportunity to explore new varietals, discover new wineries and ask any questions they may have along the way.
On the off-weeks, Nate hosts a virtual wine tasting. As with many businesses trying to survive during the pandemic, Finch Fine Wines was required to be on their toes and innovative to stay afloat.
The introduction of bi-weekly virtual tastings during the pandemic was a successful virtual experiment that has become a mainstay. The shop selects a few wines for patrons to pick up at their convenience ahead of the online event. Customers from around the country and beyond participate in the curated tastings from the comfort of their homes, further solidifying the shop’s commitment to education and accessibility.
“We have actually even had people join from abroad,” Nate says.
In the realm of wine and its many complexities, Finch Fine Wines is committed to unraveling common misconceptions in the wine industry.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not sulfites or tannins that are often responsible for adverse reactions that some customers experience with certain red wines. Histamines, with their genetic triggers, are the main culprit.
Nate demystifies this phenomenon by likening it to the reaction one might have to black tea without cream or sugar. The shop’s emphasis on educating its customers goes beyond the conventional, debunking myths and offering insights that empower wine novices and enthusiasts to make informed choices.
Finch Fine Wines’ commitment to enhancing its customers’ wine experiences includes the introduction of an online shop. In addition to the option to browse their selection of wine and wine-related gifts, the interactive website includes a modern chat feature designed to provide personalized wine-pairing recommendations.
Customers have taken full advantage of this innovative tool, even sending in photos of restaurant menus while dining out to receive expert advice on the best wine selections to complement their meals.
This virtual engagement highlights the shop’s dedication to being more than just a retail space—it’s a resource for a personal, curated and enriched wine journey.
Beyond the virtual realm, Finch Fine Wines offers a range of tailored experiences. Private wine tastings, which can be held both onsite and offsite according to customer preference, provide an intimate setting to explore a selection of exquisite wines.
These tastings create an avenue for guests to delve into the nuances of each wine, guided by the expertise of the shop’s sommelier. The shop also extends its offerings to catered wine services for special occasions, including but not limited to weddings, office parties or events throughout the holiday season.
This personalized touch ensures that the joy of wine is seamlessly integrated into cherished moments, making Finch Fine Wines a dynamic presence in both the local community and the broader world of wine enthusiasts. The team’s commitment to community involvement is exemplified through their sponsorship of events such as The Friends of the Birmingham Botanical Garden’s “Rosé in the Roses.”
For those embarking on their wine journey, Finch Fine Wines provides a roadmap to navigate the diverse world of wines. For customers new to wine, Nate recommends starting with sweet white wines.
“Light, refreshing white wines from Spain or Portugal would be a great start,” Nate says.
As their palates evolve, customers can experiment with their preferences, trying new varietals which become a foundation for an exciting journey of discovery.
The approach here is not just about wine, but it is also about the individual’s preferences and experiences. By taking cues from how one takes their coffee, Nate uses a unique method to discover a customer’s personal taste profile.
“You can tell a lot by asking people how they take their coffee,” Nate says.
Whether they prefer it black, with sugar and cream or prefer not to drink coffee at all, this simple-yet-unexpected inquiry offers valuable insights into the customer’s palate. Armed with this knowledge, Nate can curate a selection that aligns wines with personal preferences, turning every sip into an enlightening experience.
As Finch Fine Wines continues to flourish, the shop remains dedicated to its mission of providing a highly tailored and enjoyable wine experience. Looking ahead, the shop envisions becoming a hub for wine education, offering more formal classes and workshops to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of wine.
By embracing change, maintaining a focus on quality and providing memorable experiences, Finch Fine Wines is raising the bar for wine shops everywhere. Whether one is a seasoned oenophile or is just dipping his toes into the world of wine, Finch Fine Wines welcomes everyone to embark on a journey of flavors, experiences and discoveries.
Customers can visit finchfinewines.com for more information.