Tuesday, September 20, 2005

San Francisco--Drinking My Way Through Town

Just back from America's favorite wine and food playground, San Francisco, with some tips on spots for all you winos.

Friday Morning, 11:35 am. Market and 4th. We round the corner on Mission in search of the prize: VinoVenue. One of SF's newest tasting spots, VinoVenue, combines a tasting room, wine shop and wine lounge in a neat, convenient package. 100 wines by the glass for tasting, from California and around the world.

We arrive at our destination: ugh, no wine tasting til 12 noon. Ahh..but, Starbucks is across the street to kill 25 min.

After an ice coffee, I am ready for the task at hand: sample as many wines as possible at VinoVenue's various cuvinet-cum-tasting stations.

We enter. I look around. My mouth salivates. Round, tasting stations equipped with pressurized taps to keep the wines from oxidizing fill the room. We greet Jennifer, our host for the next 2 HOURS--and it was the longest 2 HOURS my friend AJ had to endure watching myself, Shaun and Shan, dance around the store like kids in a candy shop.

Jennifer explains we need to purchase a tasting card, which come in various monetary denominations. Place the card in the slot at each station, push the button above the wine you wish to taste, and presto! A 1 ounce taste shoots into the glass and a tasting fee is deducted from the tasting card. Don't have enough left on the card for a full taste? No problem! The machine calibrates tastes for less than 1 ounce samples. Prices range from $1 to a whopping $28 for premium samples. Shaun was especially entranced with the Caymus Reserve, which boasts a nice little price of $14.40 per ounce.

2 HOURS, $60 in tastings and $200 in wine purchases later, it was time to bid farewell to VinoVenue.

Add this spot to your list for your next visit to SF.

686 Mission Street, San Francisco, 415.341.1930

Top two photos copyright San Francisco Chronicle

No comments: