A Weekend at The Carriage Wine & Market


Lauren Jewel-Odum, Volunteer Writer

 I have an inner monologue that plagues me every weekend—what is a girl to do? 

Not in an existential dread sort of way. I save that for Sundays. I simply try to maximize the mere 48 hours of freedom I have from weekday woes. All that to say, this weekend was no different. 

Insert The Carriage Wine & Market. 

Per the company website, The Carriage is a premier wine bar and specialty grocery store with curated selections designed “for winos and foodies and other curious folks.” Nestled neatly in downtown Florence, Ala, since 2014, the location has been prime for a night out on the town sans the smell of sweaty bodies and stale beer. The Carriage Wine & Market also has a newer location in Sheffield, Ala. 

As if I needed another excuse to enjoy a glass of wine, I was happy to hide my selfish intentions under the guise of supporting small, local businesses. With my most adventurous “wino and foodie” girlfriend, Dri, in tow, we made our way to the flagship wine wonderland. 

Upon entrance, the aesthetic immediately felt cosmopolitan, but cozy, as if my chicest girlfriend invited me over to her luxury penthouse for a wine night. Beautiful, abstract artwork adorned the walls, and modern chandeliers cast a warm glow over the space. Customers could choose between a seat at the white marble bar or at one of the plush, jewel-toned couches placed throughout. There was no music playing, only the hushed whispers of other diners enjoying their night out. Lack of background noise could be considered social atmosphere suicide in most situations. However, for The Carriage it worked, as the silence created a sort of peace and calm within the vicinity that added to the homey feel. 

Dri and I decided to cozy up to the bar and began to look over the menu. The plethora of unique food and beverage options were overwhelming in an exciting sort of way. The menu boasted sips, brews, bites and aperitifs. Let me preface this by stating that I consider myself a wine connoisseur, but in reality, I am a novice at best. With that being said, I utilized Google more than once during my visit, starting with looking up the definition of “aperitif.” Not to be confused with a digestif, a drink served after a meal, an aperitif is defined by Oxford Languages as “an alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite.” The logophile in me definitely wanted to opt for one of the three aperitifs listed, only because I loved learning that new word. Not to mention the menu descriptions for these drinks were so mesmerizing. One in particular was named Pasubio Vino Amaro and was made with blueberry, pine, smoke and herb flavors. It seemed like a no-brainer, but I decided to enlist the help of an expert to keep from being disappointed and wine drunk. Brooke, our patient bartender, was happy to assist. “I’d have to say the Nieportnat Cool and Glouglou Gammy [wines] have to be my favorite!” Brooke exclaimed excitedly. Her recommendations sounded like fancy gibberish. Too embarrassed to pull out my phone for the umpteenth time, I mentioned that we were seeking sweeter wines, to which she suggested we try a glass of the Ca’Furlan Moscato. We went along with her professional opinion, opting for the aptly named nine-ounce “living room pour” versus the five-ounce pour that was also offered. This was in addition to a glass of the Pasubio Vino Amaro, because why not?

Several glasses in, my friend and I were feeling a bit famished. “What is a wine night without a few nibblers?” Dri asked me between sips of moscato. Those aperitifs were starting to do their job. In hindsight, it might have been overambitious to order two of the “Bites” platters, as The Carriage curated this option for up to four guests, but that did not stop us. We first ordered the “Charcuterie” platter, which offered “Salami robusto, prosciutto and landjaeger served with pâté and rotating accoutrement”. The aforementioned accoutrement included a spicy bar mix, the most luxe honeycrisp mustard, and a stack of delicate little wafer crackers. Outside of the duck liver and black truffle pâté, which my kitten, Fenty, seemed to enjoy more than I did, the food was delicious. Our second choice, the “Traditional Fromage”, listed on the menu as “a selection of three cheeses with artisanal meats and accoutrement,” was also absolutely superb. As we feasted on our assortment of goodies, my friend best described it as “a bougie adult lunchable,” and she was not incorrect. 

Comfortably wine-tipsy and surprisingly full, we left the bar and went on to explore the rest of the establishment. The beauty of The Carriage is that there is something for everybody. For patrons who would rather forgo the bar, there is The Market side within the same building, which offers upscale specialty grocery selections for purchase. If Whole Foods had a cooler, more personable cousin, this market would be it. As I perused the shelves, spicy ginger-beer syrup and champagne garlic honey mustard were but a few of the items that piqued my curiosity. There was also a small floral section tucked away and filled with fresh cut florals fit for even the most opulent centerpiece. Given its namesake, the Carriage is obviously not lacking for luxurious libations. Customers can choose from bottles of whites, reds, sparklings and rose’s from all four corners of the globe, all of which can be uncorked and enjoyed at the bar for a small fee. 

It might have been the drinks talking, but by the time I closed my tab and safely headed home to my apartment, I felt as if I had traveled the world in my own special way. I had a glass of Ca’Furlan Moscato made from grapes harvested in Italy. This was followed by a pour of Ciderboys Blackberry Wild Cider, sourced from a small distillery in Wisconsin. The Clawson Lemon Zest Stilton offered as a fromage option on the Bites platter is proudly produced on a family dairy farm in London, England. For a busy woman with 48 hours to spare and Dom Pérignon taste on a Bud Light budget, I could not have asked for a more enjoyable and educational experience all from the comfort of my small, southern college town.