Readers’ Choice 2010 Best Wine Shop

Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O: Brix

While Dan Matuszek traveled the country working for E & J Gallo, he was contemplating the wine business he wanted to create at home in Omaha. “I started thinking about it 15 years ago,” Matuszek says. “I never found the format that I wanted, so I came up with my own.” Matuszek opened Brix in Village Pointe in January, and it’s been worth the wait. Brix was named Best Wine Shop in the Reader’s Choice Awards, but it’s actually three businesses under one big roof. The wine lounge serves food and drink, and an event center hosts gatherings, but most Brix customers first visit its 12,000-square-foot retail liquor store. Wine, beer and spirits are for sale in the former Wild Oats space, which Matuszek has designed to change customer expectations. “We have wide aisles, music, nice lighting, and cool shelving,” he says. “I want it to be more like a coffee shop than a traditional liquor store.” Matuszek and his employees choose the wines they stock by tasting hundreds of brands, studying Wine Spectator ratings, and considering the “uniqueness” factor. “We look for styles of wine that people might not know about, but are very high quality,” Matuszek says. “For example, we stock Albarino, which is a white wine from Spain. You won’t find a lot of retailers carrying styles like that.” The three top sellers at Brix are Cabernet, blended red wines, and Pinot Noir. Matuszek said Omaha is a “Cabernet town,” but blended red wines are his fastest-growing category at the moment. Blended wines contains less than 75% of any particular grape, and are often a mix of two or three. Brix also offers over 725 beers from 25 countries, and a wide selection of spirits. Demand for single malt scotch has been the biggest surprise in Brix’s first year of business. Matuszek said strong sales have convinced him to offer over 100 varieties, and to bring in experts from Chicago and Scotland to conduct tastings. “This is a huge category for us and growing every day,” Matuszek said. “It’s an acquired taste, and it really parallels the growth of the wine industry.” With its soaring ceilings and deep selection, Brix looks like a chain, but it remains an original. “People probably ask us 10 times per day if we are a national chain,” says Matuszek. “We are proud to be Omaha born and raised.”

posted at 12:12 am
on Friday, November 19th, 2010

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