"Let’s go have some wine before dinner," the Cute Gardener said to me last Friday night as we were headed out for supper at Sweetsalt Food Shop in Toluca Lake. But instead of a winery or some cute, boutique bar, I found us turning into the parking lot of a liquor store called Vendome.
Oh, I thought, we are participating in a wine tasting, I see. But this was no ordinary wine tasting either.
Inside a well-stocked and rather impressive regular old liquor store sat a normal looking square bar with chairs on all sides and an island in the middle. Five others were already bellied up sampling options from their note cards, which they were busy checking off boxes and circling things upon. When the bartender walked over to us, the CG said, “I see you’ve lost some hair,” to which the bartender explained that he had recently shaved a beard that had hung down to his chest. This all made me realize that I now knew why my boyfriend drove all the way to Toluca Lake to buy his wine. Where else could you find a bar in a store that provided tastings in such a cool fashion.
And by that I mean this. They give you these cards that have a front and back. The front shows you all the wines that are being featured to taste and how much they cost per pour. We were celebrating Italian Wines that evening so I chose a few baritone-voiced reds. The backside had wines that were still left over from the tasting the night before, where you could now sample them all for a dollar. This was cool because even the pours from the previous night that had been 4 or 5 dollars per pour were now only a buck. For me, luckily this meant trying some nice French Rhones that were right up my romantic palette’s alley.
Then once you are done tasting you are offered all the bottles on the list for a discount price, an easy 4 – 10 dollars off they would normally cost had you just walked in and chose them off the shelves. I walked away a happy girl with three more reds for my collection, which I have now come to define as founded strongly in sexy, feminine Frenchies and hot, bullfight worthy Spanish and Italian reds.
Plus, they also offer you cheese to go along with the cracker and bread basket they give you for free. The cheeses are $2 a pop and you can pick your variety from a big basket of wrapped wedges. We discovered and fell head over heels for green, sage cheddar this evening alongside safe, familiar favorite Brie.
Another great find by my man, who I am pretty sure at this point I would even follow to the moon.