However, a funny thing happened on our way to oenophilism. We were distracted by their other drinks.
It all started out innocuously. The bar was a nice, intimate space with cheerful lemon-yellow walls tempered by mahogany woodwork. We especially loved the lights hanging over the bar and the red wall sconces; these Murano-inspired glass pieces were locally made and added an elegant touch. Behind the bar was a cellar room, which housed around 400 bottles mainly from small Italian vineyards.
"We're trying to offer a true Italian experience," Enoteca owner Jasper Mirabile Jr. told us. "We want to introduce people to these wines."
The Friday night crowd seemed to consist mostly of older people who were having a predinner drink, younger couples on dates and a priest who walked through to the restaurant, forcing us to refrain from cracking, "A priest walks into a bar ... " There was also one Greg Franklin (not the Pitch music writer), a weekly visitor to Jasper's for years who unabashedly proclaimed his love while drinking a glass of Chianti. "I love the place. Period."
That bold statement motivated us to start drinking, so we commenced with the Jasper martini. It was made with Grey Goose vodka, Bailey's Irish Cream, Frangelico and Godiva's Chocolate Liqueur, and, according to the menu, was "shaken and served straight up, with a kiss."
"Pay attention!" barked our gruff bartender. He then puckered up his lips, made a kissing noise and placed the drink on the bar. The drink was like chocolate milk -- "with a kick in the arse," said Research Assistant Betty.
We then moved on to the grappa, the high-proof brandy made from the stems and skins of grapes left over after the wine has been made. Our other bartender -- the nonkissy one -- recommended the moderately priced Lungarotti. Served at room temperature in small, cylindrical cordial glasses, its initial taste was the essence of pure alcohol, but then that dissipated, giving way to a peppery bite and a fruity aftertaste.
"That'll clean out any cuts," remarked Betty. Though we liked the Lungarotti, Leonard's Homemade Flavored Grappas -- infused with various flavorings for 45 days -- had us raving and dissecting its qualities like we were experts. It was very Food Network. The fig was intensely figtastic and the chocolate one was luscious, thick and rich, with a mocha flavor.
After sampling the grappas, we noticed that it was past the 10 p.m. closing time, so we gathered our stuff to leave. The winetasting would just have to wait until our next visit. Until then, we'll still be the ones looking bewildered at Berbiglia.