There’s nothing quite like a hefty glass of red wine at the end of a long day. Just as there is no replacing a glass of cold, refreshing white during when the weather heats up. Since wine is such an integral part of any day, really, it’s easy to understand why nearly every metropolitan city has adopted these mini-meccas of wine commonly known as wine bars. Often outfitted with dark wood accents and an impressive wine list, wine bars in Los Angeles and elsewhere are havens for those of us who enjoy drinking fermented grape juice on a regular basis. So we’re here to help you find the heaviest hand in the city. Or, if not the heaviest, then at least the Haute 5 establishments with their minds in the right place: focused on the wine.
Santa Monica’s pioneer in utilizing the enomatic machine, Pourtal has become a Westside favorite for all things wine. The menu is one of shared plates and small bites so that your experience can really revolve around what’s in your glass. Speaking of what’s in your glass, Pourtal offers not only an enomatic machine “card,” which you can pre-pay and use at your leisure, they also offer Tasting Tours that highlight four to eight wines at a time, usually organized by region. The current tour, for example, is of Island Wines including white wine options from New Zealand, Sardinia, Croatia, and Greece and red wine options hailing from Mallorca, Corsica, Sicily, Australia, and the Canary Islands. See? Drinking in the name of education.
Pourtal is located at 104 Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica; 310.393.7693
Hankering for a perfect pour and some cured meats once seemed like a posh and insatiable kind of hankering. Now with establishments like AOC smack in the center of the city, just near The Grove, it’s really very easy to quench that craving, and do it well. Call us Angelenos spoiled, but we’d like our red with a side of Serrano ham and Prosciutto di Parma, thank you very much. If we must continue to indulge (to prove a point, you see), we’ll take some of the Portuguese sheep cheese, some Muffato Veneto blue cheese, and a French goat cheese from the Loire Valley. AOC’s ambiance is just right in that it makes all this indulging seem very much to be expected.
AOC Wine Bar and Restaurant is located at 8022 West 3rd St. in Los Angeles; 323.653.6359
In Downtown LA, you tend to be able to find two kinds of restaurants. One has oversized dining rooms and employs the same number of people as Staples Center, while the other is more intimate and charming and is only aware that a Lakers game is happening by gauging the traffic. Welcome to Corkbar. It’s small and has a modern feel with a serious wine list and a menu with offerings such as Chorizo Bruschetta, Pork Belly Sliders, and all kinds of cheeses and charcuterie. They are partial to California wines, so order a glass of white from Hitchingpost from Santa Barbara County or maybe a red from Chappellet in Napa Valley. We’re just keeping it in the family.
Corkbar is located at 403 W 12th St. in Downtown LA; 213.746.0050
Vinoteque on Melrose
When the original Culver City location closed, locals shed a small, wine-soaked tear for the space where wine was the focus, but the food was equally as delicious and the space was pretension-free. When they reopened on Melrose Ave, on an increasingly popular strip, winos in Los Angeles felt revived and like themselves again. The space is quirky and intimate with a distinctly homespun feel. They know that your wine should go well with Marconna Almonds and Finocchiona Salami just as it should with Pei Mussels, Pappardelle, and Pan Roasted Squab. Arranged by region, the wine list is impressive to say the least with choices from Germany to New Zealand, Austria to Argentina, and Slovenia to Chile. Finally, we can really tour the world one glass at a time.
Vinoteque on Melrose is located at 7469 Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood; 310.860.6060
The Other Room
For you, drinking wine by the beach is a particularly high priority and we understand completely. While The Other Room in Venice isn’t quite close enough to watch the waves roll in and out, it is close enough to wander inside with jeans on and smell the salty beachside air. It can get loud at the weekends, but the noise level never interferes with their impressive selection of beers and wines. Open until 2 a.m., this isn’t your typical wine bar. The Other Room is great for grabbing a glass, scouting out a stool, and people watching. It’s cozy and laid back, but that shouldn’t make you underestimate their selection of wines from around the world.
The Other Room is located at 1201 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice; 310.396.6230