BERLIN — If you haven’t been able to make it to one of Rita’s World of Beer, Wine, and Spirits’ weekly Friday wine tastings, no worries. Owner Rita O’Neill has arranged it so that whenever she’s open, there’s a tasting going on. O’Neill recently purchased a Wine Station by Napa Technologies that allows her to keep bottles at the right temperature and ready for pouring at any time.
Although originally developed for wine bars, O’Neill has adapted the Wine Station for her own uses.
“I would love to have a wine bar, but we just don’t have the space here,” she said. “This way customers can get a tasting whenever they’re in.”
O’Neill said she chooses the wines based generally on what she feels like having or sometimes as a way to promote a vintage on special offer. Mostly, though, she said she’s been able to make better use of her wine selection because she no longer has to worry about spoilage.
The Wine Station uses nitrogen to eliminate oxygen in the tank and keep opened bottles fresh for up to 90 days, although no bottle ever lasts that long in O’Neill’s station. The machine is set for pouring an ounce at a time and allows patrons over 21 to taste up to four of the wines at no cost.
“We’ve had a great response so far,” she said. Adding that in her experience the wine’s integrity remains as in tact in the machine as it does when freshly opened, kind of a what you taste is what you get effect.
In addition to being the perfect way to introduce patrons to different wines, the Wine Station is also a way of helping shoppers decide if they aren’t sure what they want. It also provides a no-risk way of experimenting with a wine without having to invest in an entire bottle.
O’Neill said that the new development won’t keep Rita’s World from continuing the regular tastings, often hosted by one of the store’s wine distributors. Tastings continue 4-7 p.m. each Friday and will often be different wines from those in the Wine Station.
The emphasis on wine isn’t anything new as Rita’s World has been one of the best places for variety in the area. O’Neill has also always prided herself on her shop’s selection of beer and liquor, which runs the gamut of taste and expense.
O’Neill’s store also carries the right complements — from pork rinds to smoked salmon, exotic cheeses and chocolates — for pretty much any alcohol they sell as well as appropriate mixers and even cigars.
“If a hurricane comes we’ll all be meeting here,” O’Neill said.