by Eric Ginsburg
What do you get when you cross a beer bong, a teapot and a glassblower? Some sort of strange and beautiful wine pitcher that hails from the Basque region of Spain, where people apparently tip up the container and pour a stream of wine into their mouths.
At least that’s what I was told when I walked into Zeto — the wine shop in downtown Greensboro celebrating its 15th anniversary — one afternoon last weekend. The man ahead of me in line was buying one, and even pulled up a video on his phone to show a couple of us what the pretty jug looks like in action.
Zeto has a well-deserved reputation as a classy place — you won’t actually find anyone guzzling wine down like its Carlo Rossi here. But there’s a lot more to this independent shop a block from the Greensboro Grasshoppers stadium than a well-curated selection of first-rate wines.
Among those who know of Zeto but may not be personally familiar, there’s a general lack of understanding that there is usually at least one affordably priced version of each varietal in stock, making it easy to find what you’re looking for without running up a big tab. We’re talking $6 bottles in some cases, including a wide range of choices that barely inch above the two-digit mark.
Owners Penny Demetriades and Su Peterson are proud that their customers are all over the map when it comes to tastes and level of knowledge about wine. They do their best to avoid the pretension that sometimes accompanies the industry. When I first walked in way back when, all I knew was that I wanted a red on the cheap, and that I trusted them to steer me towards something worthwhile.
Needless to say they succeeded. I didn’t know at the time that they try all of the wines they carry, except maybe the most expensive ones, so they’re able to vouch for the quality of what they’re selling. As much as possible, they avoid manufactured wine that is really a departure of what terroir — or the science of wine —is all about.
Demetriades originally thought of opening a store like this in 1983 when she moved to Greensboro, but held off as she dove into real estate appraisal instead. Peterson owned Undercurrent, the revered fine-dining restaurant a few doors down, for a stretch in the ’90s, and had more than a decade of professional experience with wine before coming on board here.
Zeto periodically hosts events, including one last week with a meatball food truck from Durham and three dozen wines to taste. Several months ago, as they added a selection of craft beers to their stock, Zeto held a similar event with beer, one of two I’ve attended here that easily convinced me to return.
But it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to drop in. In fact, the best thing about Zeto may be three Vinomatic machines at the back, each with eight wines inside. Grab a couple friends, or maybe just a date, and sample the options with 1-5 oz. pours from the machines while perusing the smorgasbord of options. If you aren’t well versed in wines or want advice anyway, Demetriades or Peterson will happily act as a guide. After all, this is what they love.
Visit Zeto Wine Shop at 335 Battleground Avenue (GSO) or check out zetowines.com.