Where to Take a Wine Enthusiast

By Lesley Balla March 14, 2008, 11:25 AM EDT

Vinum Populi

Photo: Courtesy of Vinum Populi

This is part of our Business Entertaining 2008 special report.

Vinum Populi offers self-serve wine tastings in a cozy setting: The venue has a small bar and exposed-brick walls decked with black-and-white photos of Italy. The Enomatic system keeps the mostly Spanish and Italian wines fresh; you purchase a card and slip it in for one-ounce pours—or a whole glass, if you prefer.

To modernize the venerable Valentino restaurant, Pierro Selvaggio opened V-Vin Bar for wine and food flights. The redesigned bar area features a movable cart with several bottles of white and red wine, with tasting notes to help guests choose. Flights of cheese and small plates for pairing are also available.

From the Women in Wine group comes the park-and-sip Wine Valet, a tiny retail and tasting space located in the elevator lobby underneath 2 Rodeo Drive. No more than 80 selections of regional and international varietals will be on the shelves at any one time, all for purchase or private tastings for 12 (in the shop) or 200 (on the cobblestone street above).

The folks behind Malibu Village Wines have opened a similar wine-bar concept at Malibu Colony Plaza. Barrel Malibu offers one-ounce tastes of boutique and cult wines such as Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Kistler, Sea Smoke, and L’Aventure, in addition to a list of wines by the glass and a small vino-friendly menu.

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