Ever wish you could taste before you buy? Or that you could take home an entire bottle of the Merlot you just ordered? “I think it’s something Iowa City has needed for a while — a true craft shop and wine bar,” Nick Craig said. “There are great places to go and get wine with dinner, but no one who really focuses on that. “And there are great stores that have great selections, but with most of them, you can’t really pop anything open and give it a try.” Brix Cheese Shop and Wine Bar, on the other hand, lets its customers “take a test drive before taking it home,” co-owner Craig said. The craft shop held its grand opening Thursday after first testing its concept on friends and family. The idea, which is still developing, is to “dance the line between a retail store that we can also hang out in and sit down in and try some of the stuff that we sell,” Craig said. The shop’s focus is on artisanal craft cheeses, beer and wine. The shop has some 50 cheeses for purchase, with the goal of expanding, and about 100 different wines. It also has craft beers on tap, with 50 to 60 bottle selections, Craig said. The shop selects several cheeses and 10 to 15 wines to highlight every day. Workers cut the cheese to order, keeping it fresh and free from being tainted by plastic, and they keep their selections at room temperature for tasting purposes, Craig said. There is a seating area for about 40 people in the lower level of the shop, including about a half-dozen bar seats. There also is an event room on the upper level for classes and group wine-tasting sessions that also can be rented for private events. “If you need a space but don’t want a full-blown restaurant, we can work with you,” he said. To read this story in it’s entirety head over to the business section of TheGazette.com