"In water one sees one's own face; but in wine, one beholds the heart of another." -An Old French Proverb
Another potentially wild and wet weekend is knocking on the door; this Friday afternoon here in nearly always sun-soaked San Diego, the place I call home for the time being. Working in the wine-biz part-time, I get to meet all types of vino-sapiens, traipsing about on vinous landscape. Folks who come from all walks of the wine life; there are those who dismiss me out of hand, brushing aside my offer to help them find the perfect bottle or the next [IMHO] must have bottle.
Still yet there are other folks who I refer to as the sweet-bunch, they like their wines sweet, simple and straight forward, they don't want to fuss around with decanting, bitter tannins and could care less how much oak [or even what kind for that matter] the wine has seen or not seen [mostly the latter]. Those vino-sapiens represent in my mind the two ends of wine continuum [as if there was such a thing] and are the folks who really don't need, want or even remotely desire any of the advice I'm about to let rip, like the wine-guy or gal who forgot to spit during a big tasting, only to later blow purple-cookies all over the inside of the previously clean car, in today's about San Diego post.
Today's post is for the "explorers", the kind of vino-sapiens who are open-minded, who have a real thirst for finding wines from new regions or just looking for a few gems to stock up on. Either way, I get asked all the time, "where do you go taste wine?" Since my answer can be a bit complicated; because I've been writing about wine for quite some time and I have the opportunity to sample more wines than the average garden variety vino-sapien. Now with that bit of bragging and self promotion out of the way; I've come up with a list of [LOCAL] places I use to frequent more often than I do now, but still do on occasion, wine-stores and or wine-bars where I know they can get the most bang for their buck, who offer tastings week in and week out which I believe will help them make the discoveries they’re seeking. With no further ado, here's the list, as they say about folks who run marathons, it's not about the destination; it's about the journey and to me that's what wine is all about.
1. First up to bat is the San Diego Wine Company, a wine store after my own heart. I really love their easy style and their centralized location. Just wish they had a slightly bigger space and real stems to slurp the samples from. Many of the prices fit very nicely above razor thin margins, the staff is very knowledgeable and willing to help. Each week they have a tasting and this week it's very focused with wines from Sonoma in the lime-light.
2. Up next in the line up; Vintage Wines Limited which also has a focused tasting each week and happens to be right down the street from the San Diego Wine Company. Again, ideally centralized right there on Miramar Road, and can be accessed easily from the I805 or the I15. They also have very reasonable prices, knowledgeable employees and a great selection. One thing they have that many other wines stores don't is a selection of older wines; which are purchased from private collectors. A majority if not all are located in the back of the store in the walk-in, temperature and humidity controlled cellar.
3. Filling out the third spot in the line-up is the Vin De Syrah Wine Parlor located in down-town on 5th.This experience is something for the more youthful [21-29 crowd], more adventurous vino-sapiens, who from my stats are also reading this blog. And having attended one of the tastings myself, yes I took one for the team, my tasting fee was comped that evening. That said, their lead Sommelier, Adam is fantastic in creating a unique and very memorable tasting adventures, his methods are a bit different than most, but you arrive on the same journey of wine discovery. I really enjoyed the experience myself and can recommend it highly, although it's bit more expensive than most tastings, getting a taste of the magic and few nicely paired bites, makes it worth the price of admission. So give them a swirl the next time you want to get your wine on, it's a great way to kick off the weekend.
4. Batting clean-up as it was; is the The Winesellar and Brasserie another centrally located San Diego wine store that gives the thirsty vino-sapien a real bang for the buck and offers many different experiences to choose from, making it hard to resist wanting to grab a bite after a tasting. They have some of the dining experiences in San Diego, having won numerous awards for dining excellence. They have "focused" tastings every Wednesday and Saturday. The tasting they have on Saturday is fantastic; it's done blind, great way to see how your own palate is progressing. Also on Saturday; they offer a fantastic lunch [wonderfully paired with the wine] for just $12.50, folks that is a steal. Again this place also has a helpful, courteous staff, eager to help when asked.
5. Last but not least; the final place I like to recommend folks head to is Splash of Wine, or simply known as "Splash", this folks is a very unique place easily located in North Park. You can taste wines any day of the week, as they have some 72 different wines on tap, as it were, on any given day. The size of the pour is up to you, it makes for a great way to explore many different types of wine all at once and best of all you don't have to wait for anyone to come to you, it's completely "self-serve". Their place is a bit small, so come early if finding a comfy place to sit is in your interest, also if you'd like to leave with a full belly before driving home, via meat and cheese trays or the tasty pizzas which they offer and happy hour is everyday between 4 & 6 PM. If you are interested in getting a bottle of bubbly, they have a few nice selections to choose from as well.