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Archive for ‘Wine Bar/Shop Reviews’

Bottle Rockin’

Tue Dec 26, 2006

It’s been more than ten years since I last lived near Los Angeles. When I left, most everything between Santa Monica and Hollywood was considered no man’s land to the young and tragically hip. So I’ve been surprised to now find places like Culver City, once mocked, are now peppered with trendy little boîtes, restaurants and boutiques frequented by twenty and thirty somethings. On a recent sunny Saturday, trolling for new spots, I wandered into Bottle Rock, a shiny new wine bar/shop that opened late this summer on Main Street in Culver City. Rays bounced off the gleaming chrome furniture, casting glares so that I needed to wear my sunnies inside. (How better to start you on a rock star vibe?) With irreverent signs delineating varietals and styles like “Effin Merlot” and “No Champagne No Gain,” my inner punk was intrigued. Now if only they could engage my inner wine geek… Continue reading

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Wine Bars: SoCo Cool at Willi’s

Fri Dec 1, 2006

It takes well-honed hover and swoop maneuvers to snag a stool at Willi’s Wine Bar on a Friday night. Packed two deep and with every table inside and even those out on the heated patio filled, you would never guess this modern-style roadhouse was technically in the middle of nowhere. Way out on the north end of Santa Rosa, Willi’s Wine Bar is a local fave and it’s easy to see why: rustic charm, an inspired wine list and tasty small plates fuse with a laid-back vibe that is 100 percent Sonoma County.

I ventured out to Willi’s at the end of November, just after finishing up harvest at Pax Wine Cellars. My tasting companion and I ordered two flights of wine and then asked our bartender, Ryan, to select three small plates from the restaurant’s internationally themed menu to compliment our choices. Continue reading

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Wine Bars: The Pour House

Sun Nov 26, 2006

Writer’s Note: Portions of this post were originally published in the North Tahoe Action, December 11, 2005.

Wine is complicated, there’s no point in trying to skirt around that. But it doesn’t have to be challenging or frustrating. You shouldn’t have to drink a lot of wines that you don’t like to find one you do. What’s missing in the grocery/big box store experience is guidance, someone who understands wine, who’ll take the time to help you. What you need is: Dean Schaecher. Continue reading

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Wine Bars: A Dressing Room For Your Palate

Sun Nov 19, 2006

Ever bought a pair of jeans without trying them on? You get home and find yourself trying to wriggle into something made for a baby doll or, as the case may be, aghast at the two-inch shelf at the small of your back and the extra six inches of denim concealing your feet and some of the floor in front of you? You’re disappointed, put out and frustrated. Buying a wine you’ve never tasted, particularly when you’re new to wine and just discovering what you like, can be a similar and costly misadventure. Like dressing rooms, wine bars and retail shops with tasting rooms can take some of the guesswork out of buying a bottle and, with the right bartender, a great learning experience. Continue reading

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