Mutiny Wine Room opened its doors in January 2020, much to the delight of wine aficionados and Heights residents. Heck, we thought there was a lot to like about it.
Finally Houston had a vineyard experience inside the Loop and, for plenty of Heights residents, within walking distance. You could opt for a glass, carry a bottle home, or take a crash course in all things wine related. Mutiny hosts blind tastings on Wednesday evenings, and Houstonia recently partook in one.
Wine tastings are not unique to our city, but Mark Ellenberger—co-owner of Mutiny with his wife, Emily Trout—says their tastings stand out because of the connection you get to the winemakers.
"Firstly, the hosts are either winemakers or sommeliers so our level of knowledge is unique to the market," says Ellenberger. "Secondly, our wines are sourced directly from the producers and largely unavailable in the rest of Texas. Thirdly, many of our wines are single-vineyard varietals so we know the actual earth the wine came from and can speak to the exact ‘terroir’ or climatic conditions the vines were grown under. Many wines on the market are blends from several areas, and while many are quite good, you really don’t know the exact origin of the grapes."
At Mutiny, you belly up to a beautiful oak bar with like-minded individuals. You might taste, as we did, a sauvignon blanc from Touraine in Loire Valley, France, that was dry as a bone and incredibly acidic. We tried two reds, a Sangiovese from central Italy and a cabernet sauvignon with roots in Chile. The former had notes of oregano and sweet balsamic, with a nose that came off like fresh cracked pepper. The latter was my personal favorite—it was smooth and rich with notes of cedar and black currant.
Like in grade school, you're given pen and paper to list your findings and gather your thoughts with four categories to fill in—look, smell, taste and additional details including region, vintage, producer, etc. The sommelier leads the class through each beat, giving helpful hints to best discern each glass of wine. Comparing notes with your neighbor is encouraged as the class is all about gaining knowledge and, through the shared learning, camaraderie.
Surreal to think it was only a year ago that we were looking at a vastly different scene. Not long after Mutiny opened, Covid-19 hit Houston and halted the food and beverage industry.
"Covid was, of course, very challenging. We had to shut on-premise operations and pivot to take-away, delivery, and virtual concepts for a good part of the year," says Ellenberger. "This forced a steep learning curve on the ownership and the staff. We focused on tactics that would keep as much staff involved as possible, and were very happy to say 95 percent of our staff returned when we reopened in September."
Mutiny Wine Room is a labor of love in which Ellenberger and Trout want to share their passion and knowledge for all things wine. So a Wednesday night tasting? It's the perfect time.
Mutiny Wine Room hosts blind tastings at 6 p.m. Wednesdays. Reserve your spot here.