Josh Terrell is convinced there’s a wine for everybody. Whether you’re a fan of dry reds, bright whites or something between — and whether your budget is $15 or $75 — Classic Wine Company has your ideal bottle.
A mainstay in Birmingham since 1988, when original founder Tony Meyer decided the city needed a better selection, Classic Wine prides itself on bringing big-city wines to our home state. Terrell has owned the business since 2017 and pointed out that the food and beverage scene continues to flourish, and the shop has made a perfect pairing, pun intended, with the renaissance. “Our main goals have always been the same,” he said. “To introduce wines Birmingham ought to have.”
The shop has evolved considerably, beginning as a retail shop and now featuring a stylish wine bar, where patrons of all budgets and palates can sample unique wines and learn the origins. Terrell, whose background was managing another wine bar, “wanted to offer a wine bar where people could understand what they drank." He feels educating shoppers on price is important — there are reasons some wines are pricier than others. Still, the incentive of carrying inexpensive labels maintains the Classic Wine mission: everyone can, and should, enjoy wine.
To ensure something for everyone, Terrell often finds himself at very different events to research new labels. He chuckled, thinking back to a day this year when two events in one afternoon meant going from a French burgundy tasting with classical wine drinkers to an organic wine tasting with a young crowd. “It was like traditional versus hip, and I went to both. And that’s us,” he remarked. “We aren’t stuck in traditional ideas about wine — we bridge the gap between old and new.”
While the coronavirus slowed things down, customers were able to stock their personal wine cellars. Curbside pickup was popular during quarantine, and masks plus a “touch the bottle, buy the bottle” philosophy kept everyone safe. “Our staff has been awesome,” Terrell said. “We were doing Christmas-like business during quarantine, and they came up with new methods to do things.”
As of press time, everyone is excited to reopen the wine bar and set up outside tables so customers can enjoy a glass under the Alabama sky. “I just knew this was the year the bar would pick up pace — January and February were busy before the virus,” Terrell said. “I want to open outdoor seating and give people a place to hang out.”