The wine menu at Brix, a North Side restaurant named for the measurement of sugar in grapes, is designed to encourage exploration. "Ever tried a Lebanese wine?" it asks. "Here's your chance."
You won't find the traditional 6-ounce glass of wine at Brix. Instead, the establishment serves wine in 2-ounce, 4-ounce and 8-ounce pours.
"The nice thing about the 2-ounce is that you can build your own wine flights. Or if you're stuck with something you just don't care for, it's no big deal," says bartender Dave Trumel.
Trumel suggests that one way to take advantage of the 2-ounce pour is to try different versions of the same varietal. It's one thing to talk about the difference between Italian and California pinot noir. It's another thing to experience it: The domestic pinot is rounded and spicy, while its Italian cousin is significantly more fruit-forward.
The bar's wine list is expansive and ever-changing — rotating selections as often as twice a month. No specific region or grape is prominent; rather, the list is built for allowing exploration of both geography and style.
Trumel says the way the list is set up "really helps people." The wines are organized from lightest to heaviest. Each listing has a detailed description of the wine's characteristics: Traditional descriptors like "cherry," "plum" and "leather" are paired with more whimsical ones like "damp forest," "crushed rock" and "funk."
"People really enjoy the descriptors: They don't have to do as much guessing," says Trumel. He adds that the list is especially appealing to novices, who don't feel overwhelmed by the pressure to choose the "right" wine. More adventurous wine-drinkers, meanwhile, can enjoy the varied selection.
As for that Lebanese wine, a blended white ($2.50 for a 2-ounce pour) touted as a chance to try something new? Well, the short pour saved a long disappointment; "rotten straw" might make the list of descriptors.
But then, as Trumel says, "Everyone's tastes are different."
300 Western Ave., North Side. 412-904-4606 or brixpgh.com