Food Across America: Kansas City, Missouri

Cellar Rat Wine Merchants: Midwestern Values
Cellar Rat Wine
An old gun store was converted into this airy wine shop. © EG Schempf (Cellar Rat)

Weekday Wines

Cellar Rat Wine Merchants is fanatical about offering what co-owner and ex-sommelier Ryan Sciara calls “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday wines”—that is, everyday wines from around the world for under $20. It’s part of Sciara and partner John Opelka’s business plan to show that affordable, unique options from small producers can be found outside the generic selection at most Kansas City wine superstores.

Comparing $10 and $100 Wines

Cellar Rat holds twice-a-week classes, like the “10 vs. 100” tastings, in which students try wines that cost between $10 or so (2005 Angeline Sonoma County Cabernet) and $100 (the 2003 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet), then analyze the differences.

Best Value Region: Sicily

“I want to offer the best selection of Sicilian wines in the city—not something anyone would have bragged about even two years ago,” says Sciara, whose grand-father was from the island. Sciara believes Sicily is now home to some of the best value wines in Italy, thanks to technological advances and an ambitious new generation of winemakers.

Pairing Expertise

Customers can bring or fax their dinner-party menus to the store and Sciara and his team will pair each course with wines from the shop. At Thanksgiving, Cellar Rat hosted a tasting of 15 wines that all paired well with traditional holiday dishes. 1701 Baltimore Ave.; 816-221-9463 or cellarratwine.com.

PUBLISHED April 2008

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