I'm no wine expert. In fact, I don't understand how some wines get 87pts and some get 97pts, or how some can boast 5 different hints -- I usually can detect one or two -- and have a certain end note. When it comes to wine, all I know is:
1) if I like it or not
2) if it tastes too alcoholic
3) if it makes my face feel hot -- which ordinarily means I have an allergic reaction to it. Other than that, most of the other stuff is just beyond me.
I know I don't like oakey whites or reds with super high tannins. I don't care if the wine is from France, Napa Valley, Australia, New Zealand -- blah blah blah -- just let me sniff it and I'll more often than not know if I'll like it.
So when I came to OC Wine Mart the other day for its grand opening, I wasn't terribly excited about the prospects of the wines themselves, but rather, the curiosity of having an independent wine seller in Irvine. However, when I got there, what I encountered was something completely different!
Julie Lim, owner of OC Wine Mart has installed a system called the "enomatic tasting bar" which allows shoppers and wine aficionados the opportunity to browse for wine and sample some while doing it. This tasting bar has bottles of red and white wines (in separate systems) set up with a price indicator -- reasonably priced might I add -- and customers can walk around and select their own wines to sample. How this works is, you buy a card which has a dollar amount on it, you slide it into the slot on the machine and select the wine you want, place the glass under the selected bottle and voila -- a 1oz pour magically flows into your wine glass.
I was highly impressed with this because it suits me to a tee -- I don't necessarily know what I like and often, I'll buy a bottle and bring it home, open it and then find out I don't really like it at all. With this tasting bar, I can sample whatever tickles my fancy (usually it's a label on the bottle -- yeah I know I'm a dork), and if I like it, I can bring a bottle home to enjoy.
My friend Mahesh took it one step further though. His take is this -- you can grab some lunch at Renzo's next door, come in and enjoy some wine, and go back to work, or alternatively, if you just wanted to be an UNsocial drinker, or if you didn't want to make small talk with a bartender, or even worse, if you're just plain depressed, you can walk in, get your wine, drink and walk out without having to make eye contact or make small talk with anyone!
No matter how you look at it, OC Wine Mart & Tasting Bar has an awesome concept, and right now through the month of October, customers can get in on the wine card special -- $20 wine cards, buy one get one free (limit one per customer) -- go check it out!
Needless to say, even this self-professed light drinker walked out of there with wine cards and two bottles of wine!
OC Wine Mart & Tasting Bar, 2272 Michelson Drive, Irvine, CA 92612. Tel: 949-250-0033