The Little Club: Uncorking Hertel’s Beautiful Wine Bar

By Charlie Fashana

Published on | Last Updated

What do you do when your favorite Italian restaurant opens a wine bar across the street?

You. Lose. Your. Mind.

Back when they opened, my level of FOMO was at its peak as I observed so many of my friends sharing stories of their first visits to The Little Club, Ristorante Lombardo’s newest offering, and one of Hertel Avenue’s newest hot spots.

With my love of wine and wine bars, I should’ve been camping out on the sidewalk waiting for the first open of the doors back in 2019, kind of like the old days when you’d camp out for concert tickets.

But I failed there and made it a few short weeks following the opening.

Stepping inside, the casual wine drinker may be thrown off when they don’t see a laundry list of California Cabernets or Argentinian Malbecs on the menu. But know that it’s intentional. The Little Club is setting out to have people expanding their tastes while exploring the wine-making world. And the cozy, open layout encourages having new conversations with new friends. A perfect wine paring.

To start my night, I had a Pinot Noir, to my surprise, from Germany. I usually associate Germany with white wines, but I was told the output of Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir in German, as per Google) is as high as many other countries – they just drink more than they export. Good for them.

It was ­­­noticeably different from the Pinot’s I usually have; an expected light body, but with a more distinct taste and finish. I especially enjoyed the beautiful and stylish burgundy glass it was served in. You may say, “what does that matter?”, but I say your wine drinking experience is magnified by the quality of your glass.

On the tail end of my first glass of wine, I couldn’t resist sampling some meats and cheeses. It’s a bit intriguing to sit at the bar and watch the charcuterie being prepared before you.

I was next offered a red blend from France to pair with some glorious, piave-like cheese and wild boar salami.

Almost as important as the glass, the description from a knowledgeable server, can also make the wine. This one was promised to “be bright and tight and hit you in all the right places.” Without fully knowing what that meant, I went for it. And after a few sips, I managed to find a way to make that description hold true.

To me it’s clear The Little Club is big on fine wine, with a fine experience. And what’s just as great is it works perfect for both the wine novice and the sommelier.

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The Little Club, 1197 Hertel Ave, Buffalo

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Charlie Fashana

At work I'm part artist, part scientist. At home I'm part husband, part dad. Here and always, I'm all Buffalo.