Fine Wine

Sample fine vintages, schnitzel, oysters and music at Tallahassee’s cozy Wine House

Travelers to Europe are sure to have passed an Italian wine enotecha, a Greek taverna, or French bistro a’ vins. Each of them is that place you go to relax with friends, sip the fruit of the vine, and happily nibble as you talk.

Here in Tallahassee, though under pressure from some of the “big box” wine stores, there are a special few establishments that just like in Europe, are devoted to fine wine tasting, purchasing, and the right foods to enhance them.

German-born Frederick and Claudia Mursch, the Wine House’s owners, and Sandra Davidson, its General Manager, have been running the shop since 2019. People flock to Thursdays when fresh bay oysters are shucked and served with a tempting white wine.German-born Frederick and Claudia Mursch, the Wine House’s owners, and Sandra Davidson, its General Manager, have been running the shop since 2019. People flock to Thursdays when fresh bay oysters are shucked and served with a tempting white wine.

German-born Frederick and Claudia Mursch, the Wine House’s owners, and Sandra Davidson, its General Manager, have been running the shop since 2019. People flock to Thursdays when fresh bay oysters are shucked and served with a tempting white wine.

In the bustling northeast Market District, just north of I-10, where fast casual dining has blossomed, bookshops are thriving, and REI has staked out its mega-presence, there is a store whose sole mission remains to bring to Tallahassee some of the finest wines in the world. The Wine House is in the same oddly Bohemian-feeling space it has occupied since its birth some 20 years ago as the Wine Warehouse.

Today, the Wine House, its walls lined with “over 2,000 bottles of vintages from four continents and 10 countries” is that place you might settle into in the middle of the afternoon with your book club, perhaps where you go for an aperitif before a grand dinner, or the venue you race to for a monthly repas of German wine and schnitzel.

It could also be the Wine House where you hear a jazz combo, a French chanteuse, or even the blues warbled into the airy loft overlooking the main floor.

On a steamy May afternoon, Frederick and Claudia Mursch, the Wine House’s owners, and Sandra Davidson, its General Manager seem to just be getting around to home-made brunch—in this case, puffy waffles, fresh berries, and a tower of whipped cream.

Frederick and Claudia Mursch, the Wine House’s proprietors since 2019, have used their respective wine and food skills to turn the Wine House into a place for both the wine connoisseur and beer lover.Frederick and Claudia Mursch, the Wine House’s proprietors since 2019, have used their respective wine and food skills to turn the Wine House into a place for both the wine connoisseur and beer lover.

Frederick and Claudia Mursch, the Wine House’s proprietors since 2019, have used their respective wine and food skills to turn the Wine House into a place for both the wine connoisseur and beer lover.

The proprietors since 2019, the German-born Murschs have used their respective wine and food skills to turn the Wine House into a place for both the wine connoisseur and the neophyte. Oh yes, and they also have German beers— one from the oldest brewery (1040 AD) in the world.

“I am from Hanover,” says Frederick, “from the north of Germany.” Beginning as a mechanic, Mursch says he went on to have a career with BMW that carried him all over the world. An automotive technical analyst, “I traveled to Saudia Arabia, Korea, Morocco, and spent a total of five years living and working in China.”

But he remembers that in his Hanover home, his parents always had an enjoyment of good wines and instilled those tastes in Frederick. Claudia’s route to wine was different. It was through food.

“I was from a little town near Cologne. One of four children, we lived all together with our grandmother and parents in a house with a big garden where I learned to cook — the old-fashioned, German way. I preserved the produce that we grew and I learned how to feed others. And that eventually led me into making food for a living.”

“Because the kitchen here is miniscule, we could never truly have a big restaurant, but I seem to make what people love,” says Wine House owner Claudia Mursch.“Because the kitchen here is miniscule, we could never truly have a big restaurant, but I seem to make what people love,” says Wine House owner Claudia Mursch.

“Because the kitchen here is miniscule, we could never truly have a big restaurant, but I seem to make what people love,” says Wine House owner Claudia Mursch.

Although the Murschs met while she was working in the office at BMW, Claudia would go on to work at the Michelin-starred Schloss Hohenkammer, a 300-seat resort-restaurant, for over 15 years. Later, even during the time the Murschs and now two children would spend in China, she remained focused on food.

“The German style of cooking takes time, braising, slow cooking, while the Chinese way is much faster. I took Chinese cooking lessons to learn this way. Then I eventually even taught it back to Chinese people who had lost the knack for preparing their own cuisine due to their high-pressure way of life. It was fun.”

But with Frederick’s retirement from BMW, and the urge to live in an “unexplored country” still in their blood, the couple set off for the U.S. And they discovered Tallahassee.

“We love it here,” they said. “We love the people…their kindness.” And as if fate made their next decision for them — whether to open a mechanic shop or a food and wine boutique — the old Wine Warehouse came on the market. Now, five years later, the Murschs continue to find delight in serving this niche of Tallahassee.

Frederick and Claudia Mursch, the Wine House’s owners, offer facts on the history of wines to obscure facts about the shape of wine bottles.Frederick and Claudia Mursch, the Wine House’s owners, offer facts on the history of wines to obscure facts about the shape of wine bottles.

Frederick and Claudia Mursch, the Wine House’s owners, offer facts on the history of wines to obscure facts about the shape of wine bottles.

“Because the kitchen here is miniscule, we could never truly have a big restaurant, but I seem to make what people love,” says Claudia. She is right. People flock to Thursdays when fresh bay oysters are shucked and served with a tempting white.

Pork schnitzel is one Friday, and soon one Saturday, a month. Small plates of German Flammkuchen, Bratwurst with Sauerkraut, Quiche Lorraine, and Shashlik Skewer are in fact, not really small.

And the German Apple Strudel, Pecan Pie, and Buttermilk Mandarin Cake are homemade and hearty. Knowledgeable General Manager Sandra Davidson or Frederick Mursch would love to suggest a wine specifically curated to a diner’s taste or dinner choice.

From the history of wines to obscure factoids like why a rare Trockene Schmitts vintage is in a bottle shaped like a pig’s bladder, to art exhibitions, and weekend live music, the Wine House is a venue of surprises, each one perfectly aged, elegantly presented, and filled with “Gastreundschaft” — warm German hospitality.

If you go

What: The Wine House

Where: 1355 Market St.

Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday

Details: Events, entertainment, and tastings at the Wine House can be found at thewinehousemarketst.com

Marina Brown can be reached at mcdb100@comcast.net and on Facebook at Marina Brown Author.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Tallahassee’s Wine House dishes small bites, music in Market District


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