The Rouge Wine Bar & Patio
Elegance and nostalgia pair well
By Chris Michlewicz
The opening of a new wine bar has brought an elegant and nostalgic twist to the south metro area dining scene.
The Rouge Wine Bar & Patio, which opened in October near Arapahoe Road and Syracuse Way, has an atmosphere designed to bring guests “back in time with a creative nod to the Roaring ‘20s,” complete with opulent jewel tones and plush seating, said executive director Christine Gill, who designed the interior.
“Our intention was to create an ambiance that would attract a diverse and wide demographic wanting to enjoy an interactive and approachable space with a playful vibe,” she said.
The Rouge offers 3,000 square-feet of sophisticated indoor space, with a cozy sunken central bar. Garage-style windows open onto a 2,000-square-foot, partially covered patio with views of the mountains.
At any given time, patrons will have the opportunity to choose from 40-50 wines by the glass, and another 200 by the bottle. The wines are sourced from a select pool of organic wine producers from around the globe. The Rouge also works closely with local farmers who have a focus on being good stewards of the land.
“Our intention was to create an ambiance that would attract a diverse and wide demographic wanting to enjoy an interactive and approachable space with a playful vibe.”
The Rouge’s food menu focuses primarily on shared and small plates, highlighting cuisines from around the world. Items include steak tartare made with beef from Colorado-based 7x Cattle Company and served with cornichons, capers, quail egg yolk and crusty bread; ahi tuna poke with yuzu soy glaze, avocado, Peppadew peppers and cucumber; lamb merguez with peach chutney; and truffle fries with black garlic aioli and Parmesan.
The menu also includes three salads, French onion soup and six entree-sized seasonally-based offerings.
Brand director Joel Kampfe, who is a co-owner of Noble Riot in Denver and Unrooted in San Francisco, and culinary director Chris Collins sometimes follow a “what grows with it, goes with it” approach to pairings, meaning if they are serving Sicilian-style pizza, for example, they try to accompany it with a wine specific to that region.
Collins and Kampfe work in concert, much like the pairings they concoct. Collins says Kampfe is a wine guru and has the ability to take guests “on a journey” by finding just the right wine to go with a certain dish, bringing out hidden flavor profiles. Likewise, Kampfe says he and Collins play off each other; “When he comes up with a certain type of dish, he asks what [wine] we can bring.”
“An urban feel in a suburban place, like something you’d see on the East Coast, where people can expect something higher end, but not pretentious.”
The Rouge is the second food and beverage project from Bob Koontz of Kelmore Development Corporation, who opened Pindustry a few doors down from the wine bar in June 2021 as the first redeveloped business in the newly formed Arapahoe Entertainment District in Greenwood Village, just west of the I-25 and Arapahoe Road interchange.
“After we opened Pindustry, we heard from many of our loyal patrons that they were looking, at times, for a more sophisticated, quieter offering in the area,” Koontz said. “We had this great space in the building and set out to transform it o a wine-focused gathering place.”
Conversations with Koontz informed the feel of The Rouge.
“He wanted something with an urban feel in a suburban place, like something you’d see on the East Coast, where people can expect something higher end, but not pretentious,” Kampfe said of Koontz.
The Rouge is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a special brunch menu available on the weekends. The space is available for private events on Sunday evenings and Mondays.
Collins said the main intent is to provide a vast selection of delicious wines, simple food and create a “fun and approachable” environment. “You don’t have to be in a three-piece suit,” he said. “You can just come in and enjoy the adventure.”
7939 E. Arapahoe Road, Suite 190
Greenwood Village, CO 80112