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Published: Tuesday, 5/9/2006

Corkscrews aren't ready for the museum just yet

Few things in the wine business are set in stone, even the value of the cork.

For centuries the hallmark of fine wine, the cork has lost the distinction to that most pedestrian of closures: the same kind of metal screw cap used to seal bottles of soft drinks. The cork has not yet yielded to crown caps, and to the impartial observer (if there are any) the insistence on one closure or another seems often so impassioned that more than just wine chemistry is at stake. Politics and money may also be involved.

I still prefer corks, especially for the few gems in my cellar for which I anticipate long life, but I'm not yet at the point of checking the bottle top before I take my choice off the wine shop shelf.

Unless you follow news of the contest in wine-industry publications, you may not have caught the result of a nonscientific poll conducted by one of the journals: 80 percent of wine customers interviewed prefer cork; as of this writing, cork is down, but not out.

So for the time being, don't ditch your trusty corkscrew.

This week's featured wine shop is the Vineyard, 3301 West Central Ave. The Vineyard is in the heart of West Toledo in the Westgate Village Shopping Center at West Central Avenue and Secor Road.

Because the shopping center has been popular for a long while, I am constantly surprised by Old Orchard neighbors who don't know of the Vineyard's existence. Owner Jerry Johnson has developed the shop's potential with energy and a clear sense of the store's possibilities. Other shops may have greater inventories, and minimum prices established by the Ohio Board of Liquor Control are equalizers from one shop to another, but besides extensive choices, the Vineyard has other attractions.

Of course you like wine and cheese. At the Vineyard, groups of friends can gather about small tables, pick an appropriate bottle and a cheese from a deli case, and enjoy the combination right there in the store. There are varietal selections to take home, and at times the shop adds attractive luncheon and supper menus. Mr. Johnson has recruited approachable staff members, two or three of whom are on hand during regular hours.

Looked at objectively, the Vineyard seems to offer the wine customer more services than other area retailers.

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