Sommelier Matt Conway and fiancé Carissa Hernandez decided to travel south when the pandemic shut down New York City bars and restaurants back in March 2020. They landed in Charleston for what they thought would be a few weeks but ended up staying much longer as the pandemic wore on. Now they are putting their mark on the city with the opening of downtown wine bar the Tippling House.
Conway says the Tippling House is “a wine place for everybody.” He acknowledges that the statement may sound generic, but he and his team really do believe it. “We saw that this weekend,” he says, mentioning that customers ranged from former Charleston Grill wine director Rick Rubel to beer drinkers waiting for a table at Chubby Fish who were convinced to try a glass of wine. “I think we can make a lot of people happy through our passion and enthusiasm,” says Conway.
The Tippling House allows customers to purchase any bottle by the carafe, which helps folks try new varietals that may not typically be sold by the glass. This includes the rarer bottles found on the “Matthew’s Stash” menu, which features pricier selections from Conway and Hernandez’s favorite producers.
Previous to moving to the Lowcountry, Conway was longtime beverage director for chef Marc Forgione in New York City. Fans of Iron Chef America may remember Forgione from his time as an Iron Chef on the show. In Charleston, Conway recruited former Minero chef Alex Yellan for the menu at the Tippling House. The menu includes Tarvin shrimp toast and Kite Country ham skewers with Swiss cheese and potatoes.
Conway and Hernandez signed a lease on the former Tapio space at 221 Coming Street in August 2021 and went to work shaping the space into a wine bar. They restored the original fireplace in the 1891 building and put in other touches like sage and cream walls to create a soft and inviting space.
The Tippling House is open Tuesday through Saturday, starting at 4 p.m.
Take a look at the space and the menus here.