Grand Spirits Brings Natural Wines and Italian Inspired Snacks to South Grand

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Nebby keeps an eye on things at the new Grand Spirits Bottle Co. - NATASHA BAHRAMI
  • NATASHA BAHRAMI
  • Nebby keeps an eye on things at the new Grand Spirits Bottle Co.

One day before they opened their highly anticipated wine shop, Grand Spirits Bottle Co. (3194 South Grand Boulevard), Natasha Bahrami and Michael Fricker received the most delightful omen. A sweet, brown and white stray puppy was running around their neighborhood, begging for someone to take her in. Bahrami and Fricker didn't hesitate.

"We found her on Tuesday just running around the streets super malnourished, in bad health and horribly dirty, so we snagged her and are going to keep her," Fricker says. "You can't find a shop dog the day before you open your shop and not realize it's fate."



Little Nebbiolo, also known as "Nebby," may make a visit to Grand Sprits more charming, but it's not the main reason to visit this stunning natural wine shop and bar, which opened to the public on December 15. In addition to running the successful Cafe Natasha's and the Gin Room just down the street, Bahrami and Fricker have been working tirelessly for the past year to create a bastion of natural wines and Italian-inspired snacks, something they felt was missing from the Tower Grove East neighborhood where they live.

"During quarantine, I wanted a small shop close to the house to be able to go to and just grab a couple bottles of wine without having to make a Schnucks run," Fricker says. "I wanted it to fit in with what we did, which is something curated and centered around natural wines, and there was nothing really around that focused on that in the Tower Grove area. 33 [Wine Shop & Bar] does that, but they are still a drive, so I had a dream one night that we owned a little bottle shop. I woke up and said we are going to do this."



Grand Spirits is a welcoming environment for those seeking to learn about natural wines. - PHUONG BUI
  • PHUONG BUI
  • Grand Spirits is a welcoming environment for those seeking to learn about natural wines.

For Fricker, Grand Spirits is the extension of a passion for natural wines he developed a few years ago in France. There, while eating and drinking with fellow industry professionals who were into natural wines, he felt something click. As he explains, these wines appealed to his chef background (Fricker has an extensive culinary background which includes high-end properties around the country such as Cielo and Cinder House at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis), and once the spark was lit, he dove headfirst into learning everything he could about their history, production and tasting notes.

Grand Spirits is the result of that deep dive. As Fricker explains, the purpose of the shop is not simply to be a place where people can buy natural wines, but an opportunity for education in a welcoming, judgment-free space. He believes this is particularly important because there is some controversy and misinformation around natural wines, and he hopes to dispel some of these myths.

"It's kind of a dirty word in the wine world, and it's pretty divisive," Fricker explains. "I get the question constantly 'If these wines are natural, does that mean that all others are not natural?' The word itself can be divisive and misnomered. In trying to figure out a way to define what makes a natural wine, we are focusing on clean agricultural processes where people are either certified or practicing organic and biodynamic methods and being biodiverse in the fields. During vinification, these wines are using natural yeast, and post-vinification, winemakers are not adding sulfites or preservatives. We're focusing on clean practices and doing things intentionally and with detail and on sustainability."

Michael Fricker is excited to share his passion for natural wines. - PHUONG BUI
  • PHUONG BUI
  • Michael Fricker is excited to share his passion for natural wines.

To that end, Bahrami and Fricker have curated a substantial selection of natural wines, focusing on bottles in the $16-$25 range. Guest who choose to enjoy a drink at the shop have their choice of tastings flights, glass pours, mezcal and whisky tastings and vermouth service.

Food-wise, Fricker is offering a simple menu of small plates centered around imported Italian goods. Four rotating vegetarian items will be available during every service, including a conserva of artichokes served over Calabrian chili ricotta, as well as black bean hummus. Fricker has also created a menu of Italian sandwiches, such as prosciutto with olive tapenade, caramelized figs and arugula. Charcuterie boards will also be available.

"There's a lot going on, and it's really fun and interesting," Fricker says. "This feels like the natural culmination of what I have done over the past ten years."

Grand Spirits Bottle Co is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Scroll down for more photos of Grand Spirits (and Nebby!).

Grand Spirits is both a retail shop and tasting room. - PHUONG BUI
  • PHUONG BUI
  • Grand Spirits is both a retail shop and tasting room.

Bahrami and Fricker have curated an extensive natural wines list that focuses on bottles between $16-$25. - PHUONG BUI
  • PHUONG BUI
  • Bahrami and Fricker have curated an extensive natural wines list that focuses on bottles between $16-$25.

Fricker hopes to educate people on what natural wine means. - PHUONG BUI
  • PHUONG BUI
  • Fricker hopes to educate people on what natural wine means.

Nebby was found the day before Bahrami and Fricker opened Grand Spirits. - NATASHA BAHRAMI
  • NATASHA BAHRAMI
  • Nebby was found the day before Bahrami and Fricker opened Grand Spirits.

Nebby is easing into her role as shop dog. - NATASHA BAHRAMI
  • NATASHA BAHRAMI
  • Nebby is easing into her role as shop dog.

Grand Spirits Bottle Co. is now open on South Grand. - PHUONG BUI
  • PHUONG BUI
  • Grand Spirits Bottle Co. is now open on South Grand.

We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at cheryl.baehr@riverfronttimes.com.

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