Wine Novice: Bodega Wine Bar
Bodega Wine Bar is all about making wine as unpretentious as possible. The owners opened the bar after searching high and low for "a casual place to grab a glass of wine...somewhere that didn't require us to be wine experts, spend a lot of money, or even talk about wine much (if at all)" but found nothing. Ah - a wine philosophy this wine novice can get behind entirely! So, of course, I had to check it out.
The bar is located in Pasadena's indoor/outdoor Paseo Colorado Mall and though I've walked by the general vicinity a few hundred times over the years, I had no idea Bodega Wine Bar, in all it's wine nonchalance, was tucked away just waiting for me to amble in and start sipping.
The mall location was off-putting at first: how uncool is it to taste wine in a mall? But then I remembered the Bodega philosophy of casual and unstuffy wine appreciation and it made perfect sense: the mall is exactly where such democratization of wine can occur.
As soon as you enter, you get a feeling of wine-bar-cool and you have no sense - none! really! - that you are in a mall wine bar. Instead, the darkly lit interior with its sleek bar tables and stools are a welcome respite from the stucco assault that is the rest of the mall. Past the tall tables and stools is a lounge area and yet more tables in a spare, industrial space.
In a truly democratic attempt to make wine tasting accessible to all, all wines are the same price. That's right. All wines are the same price. Glasses are $8, carafes are $20 and bottles are $30. No matter what. Of course, my wine snob friends countered that such a basic pricing scheme could only mean one thing: there's nothing good on the menu to taste (as in, no high-end wines that would be considered a "deal" to try at that price.) Ah - snobs, indeed! But were they right?
Let's get to the wines...