Downtown & Vine – Sacramento

Downtown & Vine
1200 K Street #8
Sacramento, CA 95814
T: 916-228-4518

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I recently traveled to Sacramento on business, but found time to get to San Francisco before and after my trip, at which time, I found the Press Club that was previously reviewed.  I wasn’t sure what I would find in Sacramento, but I found this gem of a wine bar.  I have to admit I was there in the afternoon and it was not very busy, but I suspect that was more about the time of day than the popularity of this great spot.

D&V is a little different than most wine bars.  It is not your typical place that carries wine bought from some distributor and then sold to us winos.  Instead, it is like a tasting room, just not in wine country itself.  They are a tasting room for about six or seven different vineyards.  They had some that I heard of and some that are in smaller release so it was great to try some new stuff.  Our wine steward was Jeffrey, a recent transplant from New York and he was very helpful.  I had a flight of reds that did not disappoint.  It was a nice contrast to other wine bars where you get a pinot from this vineyard and a chard of that vineyard.  Here, you get all of the offerings from a particular vineyard.

The next time you are in Sacramento, head down by the capitol and check out this great little spot.  I am sure to be back there later this year and will make sure I stay within walking distance.

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Press Club – San Francisco, CA

Press Club
20 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco CA 94103
T 415.744.5000
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This may be my new favorite spot of all wine bars.  First, San Francisco is such a great place so you are already in the mood for great wine.  You enter through a nicely decorated wine shop and head down a large staircase to what appears to be a basement area.  But once you are down there, what an amazing place.  This place is HUGE!  Most wine bars are small intimate places, but this place may be larger than just about all the other wine bars I have reviewed, put together.  There are three distinct bar and sitting areas.  Each bar seats probably 40 people and then there are community tables and sitting areas in the middle.

The wine list is superb.  There is something for everyone no matter what you fancy.  They have more than 10 different flights of wine so its a great way to try new things.  I had a flight of four wines called “From the Kegs.”  This was completely foreign to me since I am in Florida and currently restaurants and wine bars are not allowed to have kegs.  They also have some different grapes to try.  Part of my flight was a Vermentino.  I had never heard of it, but it was quite delicious.  My colleague had a flight of reds that he enjoyed greatly.  The best thing about the wine list is the variety of varietals.  (How’s that for alliteration?!)

The food menu was not something that we dove into, although it looked as good as the wine.  We did sample a cheese plate with four different cheeses.  One of the cheeses was from my favorite artisan cheese makers, Cowgirl Creamery.  I have tried a lot of different cheeses from them and I love their Mt. Tam and Red Hawk.  I was excited to try their Devil’s Gulch, but sadly it was not as tasty as their others.  The rest of the menu includes pizza, starters and charcuterie, but we were not in the mood for anything more than the cheese.

If you are in San Francisco, you have to check out the Press Club.  This is a place that should not be missed!

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Dean & Deluca Wine Room – Charlotte, NC (NEW)

Dean & Deluca Wine Room (The New One)
6903 Phillips Place Court
Charlotte, NC
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WOW!  The D&D wine bar has changed.  Some for the good and some for the not as good.  For those of you that don’t know, the D&D Wine Room is the only one in existence.  It used to be located in the same plaza as Dean & Deluca market, but they recently consolidated it all into one location.

Let’s start off talking about the wine.  The wine selection is great.  They have probably 12 or 15 different flights of wines from white to red, dry to sweet, and everything in between.  I had a flight of Syrah that included wines from Australia, Washington, and California.  Some were better than others, but that’s what tasting flights is all about.  If you wanted to just order by the glass, I think there were more than 50 to 60 wines by the glass.  Its nice because they have two prices on the list: one is a tasting price, and the other is a full glass price.  Its a nice way to try something outside of your comfort zone.

One of the biggest differences between this location and the old location is the amount and variety of food.  In the smaller place, the food selection, as I remember, was mostly limited to to cheese and charcuterie, hummus, and such.  At the new place, they take advantage of being connected to the market.  They have all kinds of foods from the original cheeses but extending to main courses and desserts.  I was with a group of people and we indulged in the sausage trio.  It was a great mix and included three different sauces – not a drop went to waste, just to my waist.

To me, the only downside of the new place is the decor.  It fits to the market, but it is much less wine-friendly feeling.  The old place had the wine racks around the room and some great wine related art, including my all-time favorite poster (featured in article at this link –  The new place is all cool, contemporary and hip.  Unfortunately, the art is gone and the only wine you see is in the glass case that is connected to the pourer.

All in all, its still a great place that I try to get to every time I am in Charlotte.  Stop by and enjoy!

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Review – Veritas Wine Bar – Washington DC

Veritas Wine Bar
2031 Florida Avenue NW
Washington, DC

Now, this is what I think a wine bar should be, especially in a city like Washington, DC.   Veritas in located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood and it fits perfectly.  It is tucked away on a busy intersection of 3 streets, but if you look you can find it.  Next to it is a Russian resturant and other ecletic fare is all within site, looking across the neighborhood.

Walking in, Veritas is a dark place with a low ceiling.  Its the kind of place that I half-way expected them to ask me for a membership card or some special password.  There is a large bar and a few tables.  Everyone is talking very low, but clearly enjoying the wine.

I was on my way to the airport and was cutting it really close to stop at this place but I could not pass it up.  I only had time for one glass of wine so I had to pick quickly.  The wine list is nice and extensive.  It has a great breadth and depth.  The list is broken down into new world and old world so you can jump to where you want to be.  I would have loved to spend time trying different wines and enjoying the atmosphere, but that will have to wait for the next trip.

If you are anywhere near Dupont and want a nice glass of wine, make the effort to find Veritas and enjoy and old-school place.


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Review – Sonoma Wine Bar – Washington, DC

Sonoma Wine Bar
223 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC 20003

Sonoma is a decent little place located very close to The Hill.  It is both a wine bar and a restaurant so you can have more than just wine.  First let’s talk about the wine list.  I would say that the wine list is a adequate in that it has a diverse selection of reds and whites.  There was nothing that really jumped off the page to me, but the cab I drank was recommended by the knowledgeable staff.

Outside of the wine, there was a nice selection of cheese and other appetizers.  I enjoyed a cheese plate, but thought it was a little expensive.  Perhaps the pricing is as much about being in DC as it is the quality of the wine.

I wish I had more to say about it, but it was a relatively undistinguised place, but worthy of checking it out to make your own opinion.

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Review: The Cellar Club @ The Biltmore Hotel – Coral Gables, FL

The Cellar Club @ The Biltmore Hotel
1200 Anastasia Ave.
Miami, FL 33134
(305) 445-1926

I am a huge fan of the Biltmore Hotel having visited several times.  This was my first time back to The Cellar Club since I started this blog, so I was looking at it through a different lens.

First let’s talk about the atmosphere.  It has a very old-school feel to it as it sits in the bottom of the hotel.  The furniture is comfy and cozy and the surrounds are quaint.

The wine is list broad and long if you are looking for bottles, but not so big if you are ordering by the glass.  I had an albarino and it was nice to see some alternatives on the menu.  Basically, you can find at least one by-the-glass offering from just about every major wine region.

I know this is a short post, but I just can’t rave about The Cellar Club like I want to.  I so want this place to be amazing, but it just feels so-so.  The rest of the Biltmore is amazing, just this just seems to fall flat.

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Review: Naked Grape Wine Bar – Wilton Manors, FL (Ft. Lauderdale)

Naked Grape Wine Bar
2039 Wilton Drive (as of this date, moving nearby around 9/1/11)
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
(954) 563-5631


WOW!!!!  Finally a good wine bar in South Florida.  I stumbled on this little gem when I was on my way to the airport on a recent business trip.  Wilton Manors is a quaint little community located to the northwest of the airport and the whole little town is full of great restaurants and shops, but the wine bar is exceptional.

THE NGWB is a small combination wine shop and wine bar.  It has a great selection of by the glass wines including some of the not-so-common-by-the-glass offerings like vihno verde and gruener veltliner on the white side.  The gentleman that poured for me, Tim, was an excellent host.  We discussed wine and talked about the small production offerings that they sell in the shop.  You won’t find any grocery store wine in this place.

The seating and style of the wine bar is comfortable and casual.  The bar itself has probably 8 seats and the rest of the seating is a smattering of casual tables and groups of chairs and couches.  It seems like a great place to go on your own like I did or with a group.

I would say the only thing lacking was a little cheese to accompany the wine, but they are about to remedy that.  In the next few weeks, the wine bar will be moving just a little north on Wilton Drive to a space that will allow them to have a small kitchen.  According to Tim, they will still have the same small friendly feel, just adding a few menu items.

So if you find yourself in Ft. Lauderdale and are looking for a place to grab a great glass, check out the Naked Grape.  You will not be disappointed!

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