As I open the door to wine-sense in Andover, a sudden gust of wind sweeps around me, bringing with it an end-of-season scattering of autumn leaves, which drift and swirl about the tiny space, coming to rest beneath a row of shelved wines labeled “Because Bubbles Make Me Smile.” Proprietor Samanta Ettore offers a warm greeting as I enter, raising her arms in a sweeping gesture across her space as the leaves settle. Her shop is cozy at 600 square feet, but the large windows and overhead skylights bring in the spaciousness of the outdoors and produce an air of fluidity and calm. A secret alcove tucked above a wall of wine, along with a large butcher block in the center of the room adorned with glasses and a few flowers, hints to customers that this is something more than a simple retail establishment. This feels like being in someone’s cozy home, a welcoming space in which to gather, which is precisely what Tuscan-born Samanta set out to create over a decade ago.
“Wine-sense was born out of necessity,” she offers, “for me and my children, and for the community.” Samanta holds a degree in architectural design, which served her well when she needed to reimagine the space she purchased for her shop. “It had pink walls and light blue carpet,” she explains. “We stripped it down and designed it ourselves. Our world is filled with technology and fast-paced living. I wanted to create an environment to allow for an awakening of the senses, where people coming in could relax their shoulders for a moment, and discover a ‘sense’ of how each bottle on the shelves can complement their lives. I wanted to enhance people’s lives.”
Proprietor Samanta Ettore
Samanta works with a variety of small distributors whom she considers friends, and she feels the same way about the winemakers she supports. At its heart, wine-sense is a lovely fusion of Samanta’s core values: honesty, integrity, and authenticity, brought to life through her seasonally rotating, meticulously curated selection. She says, “When wine is made by real people who love what they do, they generally don’t mess around with it. They make pretty honest, clean, tasty wines, right?”
And then she adds, “Every wine in my shop is a favorite, but I have to say, sparkling wine is the perfect food wine. The acidity, the texture, the personality!”
Certain laws do apply as regards the labeling of sparkling wines, based on country, method of production, and grapes used, but simply put, wine with bubbles can be made anywhere, with any grape, and with great versatility. As the holiday festivities approach, take a moment to stop into wine-sense and engage Samanta on four of her favorite sparkling wines:
A 2017 pétillant naturel, “Mamacita” is a playful blend of Vermentino and Muscat, from Brianne Day of Day Wines in Willamette Valley in Oregon. Unfiltered, with a delicate perfume and a trace of salinity, it’s poised to be the life of the party.
For Riesling lovers, a 2016 sparkling Riesling Sekt from the Mosel in Germany—winemaker Erich Weber’s very limited production Riesling—is mouthwatering, with a minerality, which grants just enough tempting fruit to keep you coming back for more.
From Gabriele Scaglione in the Alta Langa within Piedmont in Italy, a 2011 “M.C.” blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is all layers and textures and steadfast pedigree, where toasted nuts meet fresh-baked brioche. It’s silky smooth and wants to be noticed.
Or hold court with tradition, settling into Benoît Lahaye’s elegant NV Rosé de Macération from Bouzy in Montagne de Reims within Champagne in France. A tiny-production bubbly, this is a serious, expressive, and timeless temptation, made entirely with Pinot Noir.]
166 North Main Street, Andover 978-749-9464, wine-sense.com