Highly anticipated wine bar Sauvage hosts grand opening in downtown Phoenix. What to expect

Bahar Anooshahr
Arizona Republic

Chris Lingua has moved and expanded his natural wine shop, Sauvage, from The Churchill to the historic Helen Anderson House in downtown Phoenix.

The 1920s English cottage-style structure has a calm white-washed exterior. A sign on the sage front door sets the tone for the bar: "Be nice or be gone."

Inside, warm candlelight bounces off the cream-colored walls and light wood floors. Multiple seating areas are defined by wooden tables and chairs. Guests can take a seat at the bar, tables or by the fireplace with food and wine.

It took 13 months to create the space Lingua had envisioned.

"Everything we did was to make people feel comfortable," he told The Arizona Republic.

What inspired Chris Lingua to open Sauvage

Chris Lingua, owner of Sauvage Wine Bar at the Helen Anderson House, left, pours drinks at his wine bar in Phoenix on March 22, 2023.

Inspired by a trip Lingua took to France, Sauvage opened in 2018 inside a shipping container at The Churchill, just a 20-minute walk from its new location. Lingua wanted to open a wine shop where people could explore without pressure and intimidation.

That's created a fervent fanbase here in Phoenix. But he's earned national attention, too. Wine Enthusiast named Sauvage one of the best wine shops in the U.S. in 2022.

Lingua sees enjoying wine as an experience akin to enjoying music: You don't need to know music composition to appreciate it. So he carried his love of music to his space. "Aside from wine, the bar's sound system is my biggest investment," he said.

And there's no shortage of wine: He offers 200 sustainable and natural wines, with most costing between $22 and $100 per bottle.

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The aim is to 'put people at ease' and 'make them feel at home'

Lingua aimed to make everything reflect the house, which was built in the 1920s. He avoided ultra-modern design elements, even in his music. Indoor, outdoor and bar seating are available. "Every decision we make, from the chairs to the music, is to put people at ease and make them feel at home." An analog sound system, set up by Jake Stellarwell from Central Records and Record Bar, immerses the space and patrons with music from the 1980s and earlier.

Bill Kennedy pours himself a drink at Sauvage Wine Bar at the Helen Anderson House in Phoenix on March 22, 2023.

Sauvage is not the first business to open at the Helen Anderson House. Previous tenants include Luana Coffee & Beer, Jutenhoops and Willow House.

The bar only requires reservations for parties of six or more. "The idea is to slow the pace, open a bottle, get some snacks and listen to some music," Lingua said.

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What's on the menu at Sauvage

Lingua carries wines made from sustainably farmed grapes with little interference, natural yeast and little to no added sulfur, along with a selection of mezcals, amari, organic port and digestifs. The drink menu rotates. The price per glass ranges from $16 to $25.

Sauvage's menu upon opening features:

  • Aperitif from Subject to Change Wine Company.
  • Sparkling wines by Suriol and Rietsch.
  • Whites by Clemens Busch and Laura Lardy.
  • Rosés by Marioni and Strekov.
  • Orange wines from Christina and La Distesa.
  • Lighter reds from Pirouettes and Whitcraft.
  • Full-bodied reds by Acosta and Tschida.
  • Digestif by Forthave.

Sauvage also offers a menu of snacks and small bites from select Valley chefs and food vendors. Patrons can find popcorn, olives, labneh, a cheese plate and seasonal charcuterie from Underbelly, as well as desserts from Dinersaur. Prices range from $6 to $25. Moxie drip coffee is also available.

"This is truly a village effort with all the people who helped me open from branding and design to the sound system," Lingua said. "I couldn't do it without their help, so I wanted to do the same approach on the food and bring in as many colleagues as I could."

What's on the horizon for Sauvage wine bar

Lingua is taking his time adding events and other programming. For example, in May, he'll restart his subscription wine club. For $55, subscribers receive two bottles of wine per month.

He plans to host pop-up dinners with food trucks and add wine tastings every Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m.

"There's something for everybody as long as you are nice to people," Lingua said. "I'm truly lucky to have this place and the staff I have."

Sauvage in Phoenix

A grand opening celebration will take place on Monday, May 15 from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Hours: Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m.

Details: 149 W. McDowell Road.

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