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Do a Colorado wine flight at Mona’s Wine Cellar 

click to enlarge MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper

Mona’s Wine Cellar, 733 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-0277, monalisafondue.com

If you aren’t wanting to go all-in on the $43-per-person, four-course fondue at The Mona Lisa Fondue Restaurant, but you’re happy to spend about half that on an à la carte cheese pot or only $12 for a chocolate pot, drop downstairs — Thursdays through Sundays only from 4:30 to close — to Mona’s Wine Cellar.

There are happy hour deals until 6:30, but I’m in past 8 on a Saturday night, lucking out to catch live classical music. That adds to the space’s intimacy with just over 20 seats, dimly lit but accented by soft-white string lights and a purple and red neon glow at the door. My cheese plate presents some brie wedges and cheddar and Gruyére cubes on a wood block with a few slices of salami, some mixed dried and fresh fruit, olives and walnuts, plus a single slice of bread. No grievance on quantity for $14, but Mona’s could stand to serve less generic, more interesting (even local) cheeses to rise above any grocery deli anywhere. I pair my plate with a flight of three Colorado wines (2 ounces each for $11 total), kicking off with Carlson Vineyards’ Laughing Cat Sweet Baby Red, from Palisade, which appears more rosé-colored in the glass, leaving me to wonder if there’s been a menu misprint; it also tastes more like that blush wine based on online descriptions I later read, and either way I’m not a big fan.

Better, and making me wish I had a steak in front of me to stand up to the high tannins, is Denver-made (from Colorado grapes) Infinite Monkey Theorem’s Malbec. Best is Grand Junction’s Two Rivers Winery Syrah, nicely rounded and full with a characteristic hint of spice to the finish.

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