Turning Waffles into Wine

Aunt Helen’s Expansion to a Café With an Evening Wine Bar

Article by Taylor Henderson

Photography by Santora Photo Co.

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

Aunt Helen’s, once sassily serving waffle wraps and coffee, now offers wine and tapas, too. Owner Aimee Hutson said the goal of the wine bar was to offer selections to make Aunt Helen’s the destination for starting or ending a downtown excursion. In the evening, their tapas menu includes bruschetta flights and charcuterie boards. They offer house-made rosemary cashews for smaller bites, and, for dessert, affogato. In addition to food, Aunt Helen’s boasts a full bar. 

It is no small task to curate a wine cellar, and owners Aimee and Bob were determined to properly build their drinks selection. The two brought in a wine expert and a few good friends who enjoyed wine for several tastings. They weighed the opinions of their friends and the wine expert, along with a rating scale, to make their choices. Aimee said it was “important to us to hit every kind of wine connoisseur,” so she built a menu with “unique, quality wines with a fair price point that consumers can’t find in other local restaurants.”  

The expansion into a café with a wine bar has been a dream of Aimee’s since Aunt Helen’s opened. Over the course of six years, she planned with her business partner and husband, Bob, to add another chunk of work to their day. Aimee wanted to fill the void she saw in downtown Greeley for a good glass of wine and a mellow vibe. Plus, she recognized an overlap in the interests and skills of her clientele. “Most experienced coffee drinkers truly appreciate the body and notes that good coffee and wine have to offer,” she reasoned. Aimee said she and Bob are learning a lot from the double restaurant life and enjoy the challenge it provides.

For everyone who leaves the wine bar feeling inspired and wanting to try their hand at a wine night, Aimee offers a few tips.

First, serve your wine at the proper temperature. Aunt Helen’s takes care to serve their red wine at exactly 55 degrees, for the ultimate enjoyment of its flavor profile. Served at room temperature, red wines lack their iconic notes and aromas and instead become alcohol-forward. The intensity of the flavor diminishes. Sparkling wines should be well chilled, white wines chilled and reds only lightly chilled.

To make wine and food pairings, Aimee suggests studying the wine’s body and its effect on the palate. Medium-to-heavy wines pair nicely with robust meals like Bolognese and other hearty pastas. Light-bodied wines with citrus notes pair well with salads and lighter meals, like fish. If you love brunch and still want to pair wine with your food, sparkling options like champagne and prosecco work well because they clear your palate after every sip. For your first attempt at pairing, Aimee advises amateur sommeliers to trust their instincts and pick what they like best.  

Aunt Helen’s drink menu can also provide inspiration. In addition to their wine and beer selections, they feature coffee-themed cocktails. Cold-brew martinis, iced Irish coffee with Bailey’s, or spiked chai lattes could pair just as well with brunch foods as a sparkling wine; if you want to give your party guests control over their drinks, offer a salad and light meal with a build-your-own vodka spritzer bar. Pre-measure the vodka and soda, then let your guests add their own syrups to flavor their drinks, just like Aunt Helen’s does! At home or out downtown, Aunt Helen’s Café and Wine Bar has a menu to satisfy your palate and a concept to inspire your parties.

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