I love wine. I love writing about wine, and I love tasting it so I can write about it. I know, it’s a dirty business, but hey, someone has to do it!
When my husband and I first moved to Studio City two decades ago, the ‘hood didn’t offer much in the way of wine tasting. In fact, it offered none. If you wanted to taste wine in California before buying it, you jumped into a plane, train or automobile and headed to wine country, be it Napa, Sonoma, Santa Ynez, Amador or all the wineries in between.
But, times change. The wine business exploded and we can now go sideways and sip the wines fantastic in our ‘hood’s own tasting rooms.
Take a Saturday afternoon break, drop in at BevMo (1:00 – 4:00pm) and nibble on some snacks and taste a variety of wines for the remarkably inexpensive price of one dollar. Yup, just a buck! There’s usually a sparkling wine, a non-chard offering (pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc) and a chardonnay, followed by three different reds. And did I say, all this for a buck?
Jennifer, the principle barista, is personable and friendly and will answer any questions you have with a smile and a pour. And if she doesn’t know the answer she’ll call the very helpful manager, Julie. When BevMo is having its 5 cent sale (buy one bottle, get the second for a nickel) some of the 5 cent sale wines are usually featured. You can take advantage right there on the spot and bring a couple of bottles home to add to your “wine cellar.”
After your big buck expenditure, swing over to the Flask for their Saturday “flight” (1:00 – 5:00pm), and sidle up to the beautiful copper tasting “room” bar or take a seat at one of the tasting tables and sip six fine wines for $16.00. (The themes and prices vary from tasting to tasting. This particular theme was “New Arrivals.”)
Ray Caccioli, one of Flask’s owners, served as my barista and as we bonded over favorite Italian restaurants he told me that when you take part in a tasting, there is a 10% discount on all bottles of wine in the store (with some restrictions). And there’s a 10% discount when you buy a case, whether you do a tasting or not.
Flask’s tasting room is also open on Fridays from 4:30 – 8:30pm… a great place to go on “date night” for a little fine wine (and fine wines they are) before heading out to dinner at one of our ‘hoods’ many fine restaurants. You can even make a reservation for parties of four and up to guarantee a seat. (For this article I didn’t want to rate the wines but I especially liked the evening’s NoCo chardonnay -$15.00 - a rich, buttery wine that I was surprised to find was made with “no oak.” All stainless.)
Even though our very own Studio City Vendome has no tasting room, Vendome on our ‘hood’s border with Toluca Lake does, and the large tasting bar is open every day except Monday (thought it is open for sipping the last Monday of every month). The seating is “first come, first serve,” and though the bar is large and has lots of stools, it can get pretty crowded and rowdy in the evening in this funky, freewheeling space.
David Milligan, wine specialist/special events, was pouring the wine when I was there and told me that if you buy a wine at the tasting, you get a 15% discount. There are a variety of flights to choose from. On the day I was there, the wines were Italian. The white flight was $3.00 for three tastings. The red was $20.00 for eight wines, and the reserve pour was $17.00 for three (well, one of the wines was $116.99 retail).
There were also “while they last” pours. Eight sparkling wines for $11.00, four reds from various countries for $4.00, and one $3.00 taste of a vintage 1985 port. If you need a little cheese to “go with” while you’re sipping, you can get some for a couple of bucks.
David also told us that as the tasting wines change from day-to-day, so do the tasting themes… one night might be free T-shirt night, another night might feature wine and cheese sans the extra $2.00 charge. They have champagne and sparkling wine nights (one is coming up on May 22nd) and there are west coast pinot noir nights, and affordable Argentina/Chile nights (May 23rd). On Wednesdays and Saturdays the tastings are a $1.00 a pour.
Drop in and pick-up the month’s wine tasting calendar. Or just drop by and be surprised.
Tuesdays: 6:00-9:00pm, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: 5:00-9:00pm, Saturdays: 6:00-9:00pm, and Sundays 4:00-7:00pm.
Three tastings, three different experiences, three different budgets. Something for everyone! And, though sipping sideways through Studio City may not be as exotic or as romantic as sipping wines in fancy wineries overlooking beautiful vineyards as the sun goes down, look at all the expensive gas money you’re saving, not to mention food and lodging.
Just close your eyes and imagine the rows of vines laden with grapes outside the door and swirl, sniff, sip and enjoy the wine.
12123 Venture Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
12194 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA. 91604
10600 Riverside Drive
Toluca Lake, CA. 91602