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Is it just me, or is this wine bar thing just about as trendy as scrunchies during the first season of Full House? In the past 6 months we’ve been bombarded with a cluster of wine bars around Los Angeles, each standing under their self-proclaimed banner of accessibility: “making wine more comprehendible to the common layperson.” But are they? Or is this just something you say to fit in, like “no I don’t watch Full House, that box set was just a gag gift.” Well, i’m putting on my monocle and trench coat to investigate a few of LA’s newest patrons of the vine to see what about them actually simplifies the elaborately ornate wine drinking experience.


BODEGA WINE BAR

Bodega of Hollywood is the youngest of three siblings in the Bodega Wine Bar family (with one in Santa Monica and the other in Pasadena). It’s a very modern, very sleek, very artsy place to sip on some vino.

The Approach Bodega is of the mind that simplicity and minimization are key to positive, casual wine drinking.

The Tactics
Food: It’s simple: pizza, pita and hummus, tuna and crackers or grilled cheese. The point here is to focus on the flavor of the wine, not to overwhelm the palate with emulsified foie gras.
Glassware: Deconstructed. The glasses are stem-less. Don’t bother yourself with all the swirling and twirling, forget about the process and enjoy the wine.
Prices: Every one of their 24 wines (12 Red, 12 White) will be priced the same. You don’t have to navigate your way through a behemoth menu of unscrupulous varietals ranging from $8-18. Glasses are $9, carafes are $24 and bottles are $32.
The Scene: Despite the fact that it feels like you’re drinking in a spaceship -celestial lighting and excessively varnished furnishings -Bodega is constructed over a set of several communal tables that are actually pretty conducive to common chatter and friendly jest. Who wouldn’t like jesting in a spacecraft?


Appropriate Footwear: Simple…yes. Casual…no. It’s Hollywood people; grab some leather loafs or some red sole heels… moon boots if you still have them from the 80′s.

SWILL AUTOMATIC

An up-and-coming wine bar tucked beneath the Biscuit Lofts, Downtown, Swill Automatic will impose an automated wine pouring system where you’ll be served 1, 2 or 4 ounce pours with the swipe of a card. Imagine circular troughs that dispose around 58 wines from around the globe. It’s the reinvention of the watering hole…but for booze!



The Approach Opening sometime next month, Swill is all about variety, so toss monogamy to the wind and start dating around. The goal here is to prevent you from feeling tied to one particular varietal, vintage or region. Remember, it’s only cheating if you take the bottle home (which you can do thanks to their nifty retail program).

The Tactics

Wine Troughs: Well, we hope you’re a social butterfly because the majority of Swill will be comprised of a few communal tables surrounding a duo of filling stations designed to encourage a bit of that good ol’ fashioned, mix-n-mingle. Think of it as speed dating for the oenophile.

The Name: Swill wants to eliminate the notion of fancy pantsness so badly that they have chosen the one word in the wine lexicon that doesn’t stink of pretension. Among other things, Swill commonly denotes loud, sloppy drinking. Spit. Gruel. Mess. You get the picture.

Appropriate Footwear:At $1-$3 a pour you can pretty much get away with anything; barefoot, mandals, Crocs… I dont care if you’re not Asian, I know you own a pair.

COVELL

Opened by Café Stella bar man, Dustin Lancaster, and Matthew Kaner of Silverlake Wine, Covell in Los Feliz is the definitely the Mr. Rogers of the neighborhood.



The Approach Like our friendly cardigan wearing neighbor, these dudes are all about education. If you don’t know anythign about wine, be prepared to get schooled… maybe even in sing along format, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

The Tactics

The Conversation: From the moment you walk into the rusticly-scruffed wine bar you’ll be engaged in a conversation of which the purpose is to tailor the perfect glass of wine to your liking. It starts with an adjective. You tell them one word that sounds like something you might be in the mood for. From there they will lead you through a small series of questions. At some point that little light clicks in their head (you’ll see it in their eyes), that’s when you know you’ve got them…or they’ve got you. Red or White? Earth or fruit? Tannins or acid? Pour. I like it. Done.

The Scene: You’ll find solace in the warm orange-hued walls beneath the arrangement of vintage cameras and newspaper collages. It’s the type of place you pop into for a glass of Montepulciano after work and end up not leaving until you realize you’ve missed The Daily Show and will have to settle for Colbert, ugh.

The Crowd: Your hip neighbor, Los Feliz aboding adultees and that guy with the beard from Mad Men checking out next week’s script at the far end of the bar.

Appropriate Footwear: Don’t kid yourselves, it’s the eastside. Try Chucks, Keds or any choice desert boot.

In the world of wine, where vintages and varietals commingle and reproduce more often than the cast of Jersey Shore (I’m not happy about this joke, either), where the never-not-confusing jumble of regions and appellations produce grapes that are made even more bewildering by capricious weather patterns and pock-marked climates, where complex flavor profiles featuring obscure hints of sour skittle and gasoline (unleaded, of course) are derived with what seems to be more subjectivity than fact…these ambitious little wine vigilantes have performed quite a stirring feat by bringing light to one of the more baffling subjects of the gastronomical world in which we live. So take a break from the craft beer and the $12 cocktails because you were never more badass than that time you slid up to the bar next to the babelicious sophisticate and ordered up a bottle of 07 Cortese Cesanese… 2 glasses.

Some Other Favs:
Mignon
Cork
Domaine LA
Vintage Enoteca


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