When it comes to the classic beverages, the where and how of consumption adds greatly to one’s pleasure: the calming ceremony of tea preparation (pre-warming the pot!), the burnt-toast scent of a coffee house, the conversational aura of a pub. It’s difficult to imagine a circumstance in which I would not find a glass of wine congenial, but I love it most of all when there is something beautiful to look at: a vine-covered pergola, a lake view, or an inspiring structure like the Cleveland Trust Building, which dates to 1908.
Designed by George Browne Post, who also created the New York Stock Exchange, the Cleveland Trust Building was originally a bank, and has remained a jewel in the heart of downtown Cleveland, even during the sad years when it was unused and closed to the public. Finally in early 2015, the local grocery chain Heinen’s reopened the building after a loving $10 million renovation.
It’s a brilliant repurposing, and the glories of Post’s expansive rotunda are undimmed by the discreet counters of cheeses and bakery goods, or the café seating on the lovely opus sectile marble floor. The highlight, though, is the self-serve wine bar in the second-floor mezzanine.
You insert a pre-paid card in a slot, and out flows your wine selection in a 1.5 oz, 3 oz, or 6 oz serving. Most intriguing of all is the variety of bottles on “tap.” You can sample anything from a $17.99 La Crema Chardonnay to a $399 Haut Brion White Bordeaux or a $850 Penfold’s Grange Shiraz. Three ounces of the $29.99 Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc cost me $5.75. It’s more than retail price, but the markup is not as high as in a restaurant.
Sipping the nectar of the vine in a space like this is good fun. I wonder if the staid bankers of 1908 enjoyed a surreptitious tipple now and then?