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Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012

Pastiche Wines Opens in Bay View

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When Bay View's Pastiche Bistro and Wine Bar (3001 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) opened in 2010, it was promptly greeted by brisk business. That wasn't a surprise for owner and chef Michael Engel, who had extensively researched the neighborhood and was confident that it would welcome a cozy, mid-priced French restaurant. What did come as a surprise, though, was how his clientele responded to wine.

“When I opened the restaurant, I had under-anticipated how much people enjoyed wine,” Engel says. “We offer some relatively offbeat selections and people were really getting into them, and they would ask me where they could get them. But the truth is there weren't a lot of places where you could buy them, since most stores weren't selling them.”

So when the business space above Engel's restaurant became available to rent, he took advantage of the opportunity to open a small wine shop.

“We opened in December,” he says of the new Pastiche Wines. “It's staffed mostly by the people who work at the restaurant, who know a lot of the customers and are really knowledgeable about wines, so they provide a ton of service, and we have a lot of wines available for tasting. It's really a comfortable place. We have some living room furniture in here where people can sit and have a glass of wine and enjoy themselves, and a couple of iPads where they can research some of the more unusual wines that we offer. It's already become a place where people come to relax.”

The shop also sells glassware, wine keys and other gifts, and will host periodic classes and tastings. Its wine selection uses the restaurant's wine list as a starting point, focusing largely on French wines in all price ranges, and in particular Rhône wines and champagnes—a favorite of Engel's.

“I love champagne,” Engel says. “To me, it's something that's not only celebratory, but fun. It's like hearing polka music; you can't not smile when you see somebody open a bottle of champagne. It's not a snobby thing, it's not an expensive thing and it goes well with every kind of food imaginable.”