Finals Schminals, Someone Pour Me Another Taste

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There’s a sorta-tradition in law school that no studying shall be done immediately after an exam.

Not one to eschew tradition, I took some time off after yesterday’s test to go wine-tasting at SOMA’s Vino Venue (686 Mission, at 3d). A friend of mine has become quite the wineguy since moving to wine-country-adjacent SF earlier this year. He makes nice with the distributors who hold events at Vino Venue and gets the skinny on the happening tastes. Last night featured wines from Michael-David Vineyards – makers of the cleverly named 7 Deadly Zins and 6th Sense Syrah, as well as the Incognito, and Earthquake labels.

There were 8 wines available for a $5 flat fee. Not a bad deal.

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I’m far from a wine expert, but I know what I like – which last night turned out to be the Earthquake Petite Sirah – winner of many gold medals from something somewhere that’s quite impressive. The petite was anything but small – even my novice nose appreciated the powerful, dark aromas: coffee, tobacco, cedar, overripe berries. It was – in the best way possible – a campfire in a glass.

Also tasty from this Lodi vineyard – the Incognito Viognier – which my tasting buddy says had the best nose of the night. It’s light, fragrant, and smells like a warm orchard at dusk. I tend to favor sweeter whites (bring me the right Riesling, and I’m yours), so this Viognier was a bit dry for my tastes – but hardly bad.

Vino Venue itself is a fine time – even absent a special event. Airy, welcoming, and less pretentious than you might think, it would make an ideal first date. According to my friend, the walls are merlot and chard colored – the result of the owner having taken two glasses of her favorite wines to the paint store and saying “make me that color.”

VV features a wide variety of other wines for tasting – nearly every varietal and blend you could think of, and many you can’t. An ingenious tasting system has you buying a debit card and slipping it into the tasting bars and then selecting your pour. It’s like an automat, but with booze. Or, as my friend says, it’s the Dave & Buster’s of Wine Tasting. There’s also a bar where you can order full glasses of your favorites, or flights of various series. Cheese plates are available, but I haven’t checked them out yet.

My only complaint about the Venue is their abnormally early closing hours – 9pm on weeknights, but only 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. I suppose that makes it a good place to take a first date if you’re not sure you want to make it a late evening or not.

Vino Venue also offers classes. Their next special event is “The Women of Pinot Noir” on Monday, May 23d from 5:30 – 8:30pm.

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