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Wine Novice: Bodega Wine Bar

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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.

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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...