Have you ever heard of Shangri-La?
Good Mansion Wines is a hidden gem located in Wheeling, West Virginia. Carol of Moon says it is well worth the road trip to make a visit.
-CAROL OF MOON-
Have you ever heard of Shangri-La?
In the 1933 novel “Lost Horizon” by English author James Hilton, Shangri-La was a mythical Himalayan utopia; an enduringly happy land isolated from the world. The people who live at Shangri-La are almost immortal, living hundreds of years beyond the normal lifespan and only very slowly aging in appearance. (More on this part later).
Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise. In other words, it’s your "happy place."
Well, I think I found my Shangri-La, alive and well and thriving in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Good Mansion Wines at 95-14th Street, owned and operated by Dominick Cerrone since 2006, is everything Shangri-La is except it’s real.
I didn't know what to expect when my friend Paige Stoehr, a native to the Wheeling area, told me we were going to her friends' wine shop.
She always talked about the shop's uniqueness and quality of product. I often wondered if her statements were true. I trust Paige's opinion on quality items; if she says it's better than other places she's been to, it is probably true. But how?
How could Wheeling have something better than Pittsburgh?
Well, my friends, they do.
Named for the prominent three-story Edwardian mansion owned by L. S. Good and built in 1905, in which the wine shop resides, Good Mansion Wines is nothing but spectacular.
You're greeted on a red carpet, from sidewalk to porch, like a special guest of honor. The shop's 28 stained glass windows aren't visible at first glance, but the impeccably manicured, yet sustainable landscape, invites you right in... as do the bulldogs who guard the entrance.
It seems original features have been well-preserved and rightfully so. In 1989 the National Register of Historic Places honored the building’s preservation by including it on their list. Rumor has it, the partners are as old as the house. (Just kidding! This isn’t literally Shangri-La. Considering the shop is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, I can't imagine the fatigue that can set in. I was exhausted just by watching them move about the store.)
Maybe the sweet nectar of immortality is in one of those bottles of wine. I'm guessing the Brut Blanc de Bleu, Cuvee Mousseux – I'm buying that next time I visit.
Let's start with the front of the shop where I found wine from nearly every region of Italy. I was blown away with how many wines I did not know. In most wine stores you'll see 'Italian' and 'French' sections and within those sections, both red and white. Not at Good Mansion Wines.
The selections were arranged by regions. You want to make polenta or white asparagus tonight? Good Mansion Wines would suggest a wine from the Veneto region of Italy.
Perhaps white truffle risotto is on the menu. They have a great selection of wines from the Piedmont region.
I could go on and on with the wine and food pairings. But there's more. From the sparkling wines that greet you at the door to the Spanish wines that reside near one of several fireplaces to the olive oils and jars of sauces for pasta all'Amatriciana, it's a well-organized display of choices. German wines and other regions of the world are also represented. Proprieto Dominick Cerrone suggested a red from Armenia for me. (It was spectacular!)
And that's just the front of the shop.
The middle room has imported dried pasta for soups and sauces and flatbreads as well as American wines.
The entire wine collection has price points for every budget.
Please don't be intimidated by the varieties. Everyone working at Good Mansion Wines was extremely friendly and Cerrone will personally hand-pick selections to fit your needs. His knowledge is immense and his ego, tiny. So don't be afraid to ask questions, give your likes, dislikes and price points. It seems to be the "judgment free" zone and incredible customer service that keeps his patrons loyal and new customers coming back.
But wait; there's more!
We haven't even stepped foot into the charcuterie shop yet.
On my visit our cheesemonger was Olivier. (Did I mention he's also the pastry chef?)
My deer-in-the-headlights look on my face must have been something he sees often. I was incredibly overwhelmed (in a good way) by the number of choices in each category of cheeses – which were organized exactly how they should be.
Once I took a deep breath, I was able to focus and with a little help from his suggestions, I picked three beautifully stinky, farmy, and sharp selections.
Now did I mention their salumi selection? Iberico ham (Iberico De Bellota) tastes like you’d died and gone to heaven. Made from acorn-fed, free-range, 100% Ibérico pigs from the Dehesa (wooded pasture) of Valle de los Pedroches outside of Cordoba, Spain. The pigs roam the pasture feasting on acorns from Encina Oak trees, contributing to the sweetness of the meat and high oleic acid and Omega-3 content. The melt-in-your-mouth goodness is treated with such respect thanks to the precisely thin and impeccably packaged workmanship of Olivier.
Along with the made-in-house terrines and sausages, they have every type of cured meat you can imagine.
Oh but wait! There's more...
The bakery/sandwich shop...the final section of the first floor is a sweet-tooth's dream!
You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? I'm going to let photographs of Good Mansion Wines’ sweets and fresh pasta speak for themselves. I cannot describe them as well as they can show you just how delicious they are.
A large bakery/cafe in the rear offers French desserts and pastries made by the resident pâtissier from Paris, as well as homemade French baguettes and breads, homemade egg and semolina pasta. Not to mention the Thierry Atlan macarons and chocolates and Italian coffee drinks.
Throughout the bake shop section, there are several different in-house breads made daily, pastries and fresh pastas. Collections of balsamic vinegars, imported olive oils and dried pastas Trofiette, from Liguria Italy. This hand-rolled, air-dried pasta made on a family farm on Italy's sun-drenched Ligurian coast from the finest durum wheat flour is traditionally served with basil or walnut pesto. This simple but elegant pasta is undeniable due to its top-notch ingredients.
We ended our lovely journey through the mansion with lots of food and wine to take home. Boxes of goodies to be exact. And once home, the charcuterie didn't last long; so, a trip to Shangri-La is in the cards again very soon.
Who wants to join me?
Carol Dzadony-Mancini is a former resident of Stowe Township and currently resides in Moon Township with her family. Her hobbies include riding horses, skiing, crocheting, hiking with her dogs, and of course cooking for the people she loves.