“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
–Albert Einstein

Smart Wine. Simple Cheese. That’s the mantra at Hyde Park’s hidden gem Albert Winestein. Owned and operated by Sean Martin and his wife Carolyn “CC” (of C² Pilates Studios), this small wine and cheese shop is a charming and unexpected surprise at 84 Fairmount Avenue — just across from the newly opened Townsend’s restaurant.

I was fortunate enough to score a trip to this quaint shop on Friday — 3-yo in tow. I had been told to go — that I would love it, so I was looking for an opportunity to swing by during their business hours of 4 – 9pm (Tuesday through Saturday). However, my work day ends at 3:30 and I pick up the 3-yo at 4pm, so it was a tough feat to pull off.

Luckily, this previous Friday I had an errand to run in Hyde Park… so the 3-yo and I had the pleasure of meeting Sean and his wife shortly after the shop opened for the day.

When you walk into Albert Winestein, the first thing you notice is the chocolate walls, punched-tin (original) ceiling and the large butcher block table top located communally in the center of the room. Wine bottles (up to 150 varieties — according to a story written by Hyde Park Mainstreets), line the right wall and the left wall is dotted with free-hanging cabinets that contain specific “groupings of wine”. Groupings range from Most Popular and Less than $10, to High-end and specific food recommendations. Original works of art are displayed throughout the shop and Sean has been known to offer local artist friends “studio nights”, where he opens the shop and shows off the masterpieces.

Cheeses and gourmet chocolates are readily available to be tasted alongside the wines. The shop is closed on Sundays and Mondays, but Sean offers organized tastings on these days. In fact, if you have some free time on Monday, August 14th (tomorrow!) from 6:30 to 8:30pm, Sean is kicking-off Monday’s Excuse, “…an opportunity to taste 3 or 4 cheeses or pates and 4 to 5 wines…” for a reasonable price of $18 per person. Sean promises that these tastings will be “…informal but informative sessions with occasional speakers who will not be long-winded or boring…”

I cannot make tomorrow’s event, but I definitely plan on trying future events, which will include kicking the summer drinking season off with an attendee-participation Martini Tasting (date TBD).

Albert Winestein’s is a great find in an otherwise underrated area. The value and quality of the wines are not to be beat and the hospitality of Sean and his wife make you feel like ‘one of the gang’ right away. If you can’t make tomorrow night, be sure to stop by some other time and tell Sean I said hi!

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