Rice Village is one of the best areas in the city to walk around visiting shops, restaurants, cafes and farmers markets just as you would in a European country. And that's exactly why Katerina Belik and Ivan Belik opened Rosinka Wine & Tea House in this neighborhood. Katerina is a lecturer at Rice University, and Ivan is a physicist and financial analyst; the two decided to bring a little bit of Russia and Europe to Rice Village with their wine and tea house selling and serving wines and teas from around the world.
The Beliks opened Rosinka Wine & Tea House in December 2013, but now that the shop has an upgraded TABC license to sell wines by the glass and for tastings, and more customers are discovering Rosinka, the owners decided to hold the grand opening celebration on October 23.
Rosinka offers a variety of wines you won't typically find in a grocery store. All of the wines are organic -- no pesticides, fertilizers or any chemicals -- such as the Lunar Apogé, a biodynamic French wine from the Lirac region.
"Biodynamic means a little bit more than just organic," Katerina says. "It means that in addition to not implementing any chemicals or fertilizers in the grape growing, people who are biodynamic wine makers follow lunar and astrological calendars. So this particular wine, the grape of this wine is harvested at night, that's why it is called lunar. And because they believe that night harvesting allows a special sugar concentration of the grape."
When you purchase a wine at Rosinka, the employees emphasize not only the scent and taste, but also the unique stories behind each wine. Katerina says, "We train our employees [to have] good knowledge about wine. It's not just another bottle out of 100...it's really a piece of art; it's an art of nature in a bottle and we describe that, we show that and we celebrate it."
Some retail bottles cost as low as $13, but a majority of the bottles range between $18 and $35. Katerina and Ivan have discovered that those who enjoy wine also enjoy tea, so Rosinka offers a selection of full-leaf teas, mostly organic, from countries such as China, Taiwan and now Sri Lanka.
"What our customers can expect from our service when they come -- first they can taste pretty much all of our products. They can have a taste of wine before they purchase a bottle; they can have a glass of wine and enjoy it in the store, or mini restaurant," Katerina says. "They can choose a tea they would like to have, by choosing I mean they can smell it, they can discuss the tea features and they can select it; we can serve it by tea pot for just a cup of tea. Teas can be iced or hot, [but] mostly they are hot. We also have absolutely great coffee. We selected this coffee roaster from Alabama and though he is not local, it is overnight shipping of freshly roasted beans."
While Rosinka cannot consider itself a restaurant due to its lack of a full-scale kitchen, customers can still sip on wine or tea paired with small bites and plates for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
"I am from Russia, Ivan is also from Russia, and we enjoy American cuisine, and since we introduced European and Italian [wines] with the French wines, we thought we need to have some pairings for them," Katerina says. "The pairings come for Italian wines and French wines. We ended up having offering champagne with a little blini puff with caviar; we can do Italian wines with these mozzarella cheese, olives and tomato skewers. Our paninis are one of the best sellers -- hot sandwiches, again all fresh ingredients, many of them organic. We do want to stay healthy with everything that we do and offer healthy options. We have some chicken and mushroom pies that would be closer to Russian cuisine; we have a bon poulet puff that would be more to French cuisine."
Satisfy your sweet tooth with one of Rosinka's desserts, such as the lemon cream cheesecake featuring a crushed walnut crust; apple turnovers spruced up with lemon peel; and healthy cookies made with whole oats, cranberries, chocolate and pecans. Katerina also notes that the "Apple in a Hat" is one of the best dessert options. Essentially it's a whole apple wrapped in pastry dough served with soft cream cheese, almonds and honey.
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"I am glad to see that people feel very cozy in our place," Katerina says. "We have a big mural on the wall which shows the European streets; we have a cobble-looking tile on the floor, so pretty much we are imitating European streets in our store. It looks like we have windows looking over the streets, we have tables outside and we have this little awning...we wanted to be a little different and I think we were pretty much successful in this."
Katerina and Ivan hope to host more parties and celebrations at Rosinka after the grand opening on October 23.
"We want to be able to really attract [the] community to our store," she says. "All of our employees are somehow related to [the] arts, and I, myself, and Ivan are also appreciators of music and art, so we want to create events in Rice Village for the entire community... We have this big parking lot, and we are lucky to have all businesses closed next to us on Sunday, so we are thinking about getting some fairs, art and getting live music outside."
Visit Rosinka Wine & Tea House in Rice Village at 2509 Rice Boulevard.