Monday, January 21, 2008

Plenty of style, not sure about substance...

I stopped by Oakland's newest wine bar last night, Vine, on Lakeshore -- I was mainly intrigued by some comments (which were complaints) akin to "What business does a wine bar have playing thumping techno on an early weeknight?" For me that seemed like a positive (as long as the music wasn't cheesy Energy 92.7-style dance music), as I have long dreamed of a space that combines good techno with the wine bar experience.

When Brian & I walked in around 6 it was pretty empty, with only a few other people at the bar, but by the time we sat down with a glass of wine it was considerably more full. Deep house was playing, which seemed like an appropriate choice, although it was a bit loud (soon it switched to R & B then jazz, both OK, but would have liked to hear more house...) We were immediately greeted by host Adrian (who, although very welcoming seemed a tad bit too eager) explained the enomatic machine concept -- I guess most people wandering into Vine haven't seen one of these automatic wine-dispensing machines before). Unfortunately you can't buy cards of less than $20, making the enomatic route a bit pricey if you also plan on settling down with a full glass or two.

The decor was impressive -- exposed brick walls, colorful paintings (especially liked a huge, stretched-canvas piece of wine bottles), track-light chandeliers, chocolate-leather benches and stools, and lovely orchids tastefully spotlighted by the shining lights. While the bar area in back was a bit bright, the front area was considerably cozier and more inviting.

But we weren't blown away by the wines, even though they had two I have long wanted to try. One was Ca'del Solo AlbariƱo from quirky Santa Cruz Mountains producer Bonny Doon, which lacked the enticing peachy-floral aromas and mineral zip of other (mainly Spanish) AlbariƱos. The other was Klinker Brick's Old Ghost, a Lodi old-vine Zin that Vine was selling out of the machine at $6.50 for a taste or -- get this -- $120 a bottle! Considering it retails for $37, that's quite the markup. Hmmmm... Also tried a Pellegrini Carignane, which lacked the lush fruit and rich earthiness I usually find in this Rhone grape.

While Vine didn't quite win me over, I'm glad to see Oakland's getting it's own share of wine bars. I will go back and hopefully find better wines and more house music!


B said...


farley said...

I went there recently and wasn't in the mood for wine so had a couple cocktails made with it instead. They were ok, nothing great. May have to give it a try again, though and share a card with friends.