Stems & Skins Charleston


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Stems & Skins is a perfect wine place whether you’re wine enthusiastic or just wine curious. Overhead, wooden beams give way to a lower tin ceiling in this galley-style space, which revolves around a bar and an army of soft blue chairs urging a belly-up. You’re given a clipboard with menus ranging from cheeses to canned seafood to Coravin poured by the glass. The music may be jazz, Frank Zappa, or Willie Nelson, and your company could be locals who know their bartenders by name, know their Chenin from their Chardonnay and are eager to try natural wines by the glass. To be sure, there’s a significant group of regulars, but since Stems (as it’s known) has made many a national list, all the fancy food editors have found their way to this Park Circle establishment at some time. 

Cocktails, beer, wine, and snacks are on purpose here, and those eating and drinking are eager to go on a journey with these pet nat pied pipers. This is the place to go if you want to learn about wine. It feels like you’re at a friend’s house who also happens to be a somme. Because you’re precisely where you’re supposed to be—they couldn’t fit you all in their living room, so they constructed this facility. The tagline is “fresh and funky ferments,” The menu meanders across geographies, styles, and plenty of items that most astute eaters would consider strange. Yet, it all feels relatively simple because the service is so excellent. 

They get to know you (or ask questions if they don’t), and it’s all about getting a sample drink of anything by the glass before you wager on the whole thing. S&S was at the fore of the European canned seafood game in Charleston, and it’s still one of the most incredible things to order here, but the kitchen has added additional menu items to entice tastes over the years. A luscious grilled cheese (try it with champagne, believe us) and the dessert of the day by local favorite Mirabelle Bakery, appealing from its footed cakestand behind the bar, are always standouts. Still, there’s no food shortage if you want to spend the evening here. 

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