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Corvina Wine Company Brings Fine Vintages to West Allis

Jan. 31, 2017
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Despite being America’s Beer Capital, in Milwaukee, wine is catching up to suds as a favorite libation. Corvina Wine Company (6038 W. Lincoln Ave.), a wine bar and retail store tucked in a classy, inviting corner storefront in West Allis, is helping to fill that demand with unique varietals from around the world.

Brothers Frank II and Joe LaSusa, owners of Corvina Wine Company, fondly recall their family’s Sunday dinners where their great-grandfather’s homemade wine was always on the table. Both Joe and Frank had worked as pharmaceutical sales reps and often entertained physicians who loved food and wine. While working in Chicago, Frank met sommeliers and got involved with trade tastings. He completed the Level 1 course of the Court of Master Sommeliers. In January 2016, he earned a diploma through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in London (WSET). He’s pursuing a master of wine designation.

Joe is a long-time wine enthusiast and has traveled extensively to wine regions around the world, visiting vineyards and meeting producers. Joe and Frank take annual trips to wine regions. “For us, it’s more than just a wine trip, but also being able to see where the wine comes from and meeting the producers that make it,” Joe said. They try to bring in wines from smaller, family-owned vineyards and land the occasional rare varietals that make it to the Midwest from both coasts.

Joe and Frank opened Corvina Wine Company in 2012 in a space with a family history: their great-grandfather operated an Italian grocery store there from the 1930s through the 1970s. Their grandfather then operated Snappy Print, a print shop. As Corvina, the space boasts racks of bottles of approachable and unusual varietals for purchase, table seating, and a small bar. Décor includes old wine presses from their great-grandfather’s store. A wall-sized blackboard displays neatly chalked maps of wine regions of the world, which Joe and Frank use to educate customers. 

“It’s an exciting time for wines right now, and we have wines on our list from regions you don’t necessarily think of as wine regions,” Frank said. Corvina, the company’s namesake, is an Italian wine grape and the principal grape in Scaia, a drier blend from Veneto, Italy. Scaia is light to medium bodied with red berry and fruit notes. Other wines on the menu include Travaglini, a nebbiolo varietal with notes of cherry and violet; and Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc—out of New Zealand—an unusual medium acidic blend with hints of grapefruit and gooseberries.

Fortified wines include The Rare Wine Co.’s Boston Bual Madeira. Thomas Jefferson was known to enjoy Madeira, and the beverage was used to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence. A selection of spirits and beers are available, and patrons can join Corvina’s wine club with personalized offerings tracked from previous purchases. 

The menu offers small bites pairings of Wisconsin cheeses, charcuterie and chocolate. Patrons can also customize a flight of three different wines. Retail bottles average $15 to $20. They also sell wine accessories such as Reidel glassware and the Coravin, a device that taps wine bottles without completely removing the cork, thus preserving higher end wines from oxidation, as if the bottle was never opened. 

Corvina Wine Company is a provider for Festa Italiana, and they participate in Forks & Corks and other food and beverage events.

For more information, visit corvinawinecompany.com.

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