Niche Wine Lounge: It's Cheers, but with wine | Blessed Is The Pour | Indy Week
Pin It

Niche Wine Lounge: It's Cheers, but with wine 

Here comes a regular: Niche Wine Lounge, a Holly Springs hot spot

Photo by Adam David Kissick

Here comes a regular: Niche Wine Lounge, a Holly Springs hot spot

Telling someone where to go is never easy.

As a food and wine writer, I get asked a lot. But to provide a solid recommendation, you need to know as much about the people asking as you do about the place you're sending them. Do they prefer a raucous, sing-along at the bar? Do they tend to squirrel away in the corner of a dark pub with a pint and an old friend? Does an elegant setting and meticulous service make them feel pampered or itchy? If you say the words "wine bar," do they cringe or smile?

To my mind, "wine bar" evokes visions of water crackers and small, expensive pours. Niche, a wine bar in Holly Springs, has neither.

Located in southern Wake County, Holly Springs is a small community of affordable four-bedroom houses and a lively rec-league softball scene. The streets aren't exactly lined with wine bars. But Niche isn't what you expect a wine bar to be.

The place looks like a liberal arts major's first house after college, complete with a rollicking house party. The small space is awkwardly divided into rooms and nooks, so you can slip away for a quiet conversation or gather around a table and listen to a guy playing guitar in front of the fireplace.

Strange collages by a local artist line the hallway to the bathrooms. The wooden deck overlooks the tall grass of a backyard. A scattering of mismatched tables and chairs sits in the glow of two strings of lights shaped like grape clusters—one red, one white. I overheard conversations on subjects ranging from johnboats to the state of the banking industry. Everywhere, people were sipping wine and smiling.

Nic Baliva, who moved here from Hartford, Conn., in 2006, opened Niche last June. "I live here in Holly Springs with my wife, and there was no place for me to take her on a date," he said. "We like wine bars, and the wine bars that we went to in Raleigh weren't exactly like wine bars. They were more like nightclubs."

Baliva is Italian, and he remembers receiving a wine press for his sixth birthday. He curates the wine list at Niche, which includes more than 60 offerings, all by the bottle or the glass. Prices range from Centello non-vintage Cava ($20 per bottle, $6.25 per glass) to Enamore Malbec from Amarone in Argentina ($32 per bottle, $8 per glass). The list features picks from Australia and New Zealand, Europe, South America, the West Coast of the U.S. and South Africa. Baliva says his regulars have adventurous palates. "I knew Niche would be a hit," he says. "Every time we'd go to a party in our neighborhood, everyone was drinking wine—and a lot of different varietals."

The wine list is divided into Sparkling & Sweet, White and Red. Each list includes the wine's origin, its bottle and glass prices and a five- to eight-word description. Among the most popular pours is the Carmenere, a 2008 Echeverria Reserva from Chile ($6.50 glass, $24 bottle). The description reads: "ripe cherry, blackberry, red bell pepper, soft spices; full bodied."

I tried the Echeverria "unwooded" 2010 chardonnay from Chile ($6/ $22). The wine was lovely and clean, and the description of "pineapple, melon, peach; crisp citrus acidity; very balanced" was spot on.

Niche also offers more than a dozen beers, including such obscure brews as Thirsty Dog Whippet Wheat from Ohio and Bison Organic Imperial Brown from California.

If you're in the mood for white tablecloths and sotto-voiced waiters, you'll be disappointed in Niche. But if you're looking to laugh off some stress over a few glasses of well-chosen wine, I can tell you where to go.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Blessed Is The Pour

Twitter Activity


We are a Greek family from Dallas who know good Greek food when we see it and are accustomed to …

by Taso on Kipos Greek Taverna (Orange County)

Don't waste your $$ here. Horrible service, mediocre food. From what we heard - kitchen turnover is the issue due …

by Ibaguru on Piedmont Restaurant (Durham County)

Most Recent Comments

I'm not sure why you are so bent out of shape over the marketing of this wine. Look at any …

by Wino on Skinnygirl talks down to women (Blessed Is The Pour)

My husband and I have visited unWINEd many times and we love it! Ray and Joni are are so friendly …

by Stacy Elaine Gray on Unwined is worth the detour (Blessed Is The Pour)

I'm so glad they are finally open- I always saw them hard at work whilst I was frolicking around Glenwood. …

by Wakeuplistenup on The Raleigh Wine Shop gets its foot in the door of the Triangle's vino scene (Blessed Is The Pour)

Your article notes a location near Morgan Street. The Raleigh Wine Shop at 126 Glenwood is actually located 3 blocks …

by jasdelaney on The Raleigh Wine Shop gets its foot in the door of the Triangle's vino scene (Blessed Is The Pour)

I liked this a lot. Embedded in this story about wine is a bigger story about friendship. Thanks for this, …

by Barry Yeoman on In choosing a new wine, take the risk (Blessed Is The Pour)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation