Often times when wine people discuss wine they come across as pretentious and superior, hence the well-deserved title “wine snobs.” While their esoteric snobbery may seem justified to the laymen, it makes learning about the wonderful world of wine seem more like a social and intellectual beat down than a delicious and eye-opening experience. Fortunately, there are extremely knowledgeable people who not only enjoy drinking wine but revel in helping others decipher and appreciate the complexities of it. They’re called sommeliers. Whether you’re looking for fine-dining wine or your casual wine bar, these wine pros have you covered.
Vinoteque on Melrose
7469 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
There are wine bars and then there’s Vinoteque on Melrose. More than 350 bottles of wine from around the world are at your fingertips when you walk through the door. Choose from a cute little Texas riesling to an exquisite bordeaux merlot blend or something in between. The wine tenders are well-informed and can easily help you pair your vino with the small plates and tapas menu. Movie night is every Sunday night and a Sip n Swirl is every Tuesday night, led by advanced sommelier Ryan Hess. “Wine is reflective of the people and land it comes from. For me, to bring people dining in a restaurant together with the wine maker through the coming interest of wine is exciting, interesting and wonderfully satisfying.” Sip n Swirl reservations are required.
1850 Industrial St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Following her family’s love and passion for food and wine, sommelier Sarah Clarke has landed at one of Downtown LA’s hottest restaurants: Church & State. The all-French wine list might have been influenced by her many trips to France with her father as a teenager, but she paid her dues and gained her knowledge along the way. After studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Clarke got her start developing wine lists for the Patina Group restaurants. From there she spent eight years at Campanile refining her wine knowledge and food pairings. Then, with a stint at The Dining Room, Clarke found a place as beverage director at Church & State. Here French food and French wine meld effortlessly thanks to Clarke.
7554 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Opened by two former corporate America advertising (and wine-loving) gals, Jennifer Moore and Danielle François left New York to open Vintage Enoteca on Sunset in Los Angeles. With a hand-picked selection from boutique producers in Europe, California and the Pacific Northwest, Moore and Françoise are there every night to answer questions and offer recommendations. Soon-to-be sommelier François likes to encourage people to mix and match and discover on their own why some wines taste better with some dishes than others. At Vintage Enoteca, learning is made fun especially with their unexpected pairings and wine events like grilled cheese Mondays (a different cheese every Monday) and the annual Candy and Wine held on the first Friday and Saturday before Halloween.
Related: Best Grilled Cheese In LA
5955 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
This Asian-fusion, modern fine-dining destination is a little on the pricy side but well worth it. In addition to the luxurious coastal menu at Providence on Melrose (located in the same spot the original Patina used to stand) there is on-hand expert sommelier Drew Langley. Having studied the art of wine under Ignace Leclaire and at exceptional restaurants including L’Orangerie, Bastide and Citrine (where he structured the entire wine menu). Langley also worked for Jeff Smith of Cart du Vin where he learned about building wine cellars and proper storage techniques. While Langley calls Providence home, access to this kind of knowledge isn’t as simple as walking through the door. While Langley is often there after 3 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, he’s often hosting events or away on wine business.