Since 1995, Spencer and Daniels Premium Wine Outlet has been wetting the tongues of oenophiles with quality libations from every corner of the globe. Hundreds of vintages rest on racks under bright murals depicting rolling vineyards and mountains, and throughout the years, patrons of the boutique have opened more than 3 million wine bottles, almost half the amount needed to build a 500-foot-tall statue of Bacchus entirely from used corks.
Though one could also call it a store, The Wine Club’s name speaks to its staff members’ passion for fine wines. Their passion and commitment to quality spirits at fair prices fostered the growth of the first singular club in 1985 into a trio of neighborhood wine and spirits stores by 1996. Shelves and display cases at each store are crowded by varietals from all over the world. During Friday happy hours and informal Saturday afternoon tastings, guests gather to discuss flavor profiles with fellow tasters, certified sommeliers, or vacationing extraterrestrials. The store also curates a variety of wine clubs for customers hoping to expand their palates.
In renovating the new location of California Wine Merchant, owner Greg O’Flynn and wife Deborah worked hard to draw inspiration from the original location, with its floor-to-ceiling redwood wine racks built by Greg and its focus on California wine. Every wine goes through blind tasting by Greg and his knowledgeable staff, who employ sharp palates to evaluate the wine's aroma, acidity, and stock options. The store's vast inventory highlights Cali labels and incorporates a handful of imports and cult favorites such as Screaming Eagle and Opus One. Open seven nights a week, a full wine bar offers a menu of 35–50 wine varieties by the glass with cheese plates to pair, plus a few craft beers. Above the cozy bar, artful hanging lights of twisted metal resemble grapevines, and large portraits of grapes pay homage to the many fruits martyred in the grape stomp.
Loris Scagliarini’s interests lie at an unusual intersection between artistry and technicality. An early job at a Modenese winery eschewed the artisanal aspects of wine making, leaving Loris with the task of running their electronic grape-management system. Although moves and later a career as a photographer took him away from Italy, his heart stayed with the world of wine. Eventually, this gentle tug became an undeniable pull, leading Loris to found Italian Wine Hub, an online presence for his photography, writing, and—above all—love for Italian wines. His inventory, imported directly from small Italian wineries, includes 54 prize-winning varieties that can be shipped nearly anywhere in the United States, or gazed at longingly from the other side of a computer screen anywhere in the world.
Cozy candlelight and flickering lanterns cast soft shadows in 55 Degree Wine’s cellar, where waiters eagerly pair customers’ palates with weekly rotating wines. Featured on Best of LA Weekly in 2012 for its wine program, the winery stocks more than 2,000 labels, of which up to 60 are spotlighted in the cellar’s monthly lineup of pours. Though most vintages are Italian, ambrosias from Europe, South America, and other far-flung climes find homes in the shop after being tasted and approved by store owners. The thermostat, appropriately set to 55 degrees, helps keep elixirs fresh and patrons comfortable, but guests may wish to bring a sweater or particularly affectionate bear.
American Sommelier unites consumers and professionals under the same vine-strung banner with a lineup of educational courses and monthly seminars, all with the goal to improve the community's understanding and appreciation for wine. In addition to its comprehensive curriculum, the association is also home to the Best Sommelier in America competition and an expansive selection of services that include job-placement assistance, insider wine tours, and cellar consultations. This combination of resources serves to create a forum where wine enthusiasts can assemble and discuss their passion as peers, much like the Founding Fathers did at their macaroni-and-cheese roundtables.