Beside the Rhine River in Germany or in sun-soaked fields in Tuscany and California, vines grow heavy with ripe fruit. These jewel-toned morsels fill bottles at PRP Wine International, whose consultants then share the global terroir during special events and private tastings at home. Each staff member has a library of facts about wine production and consumption on the tip of their tongue, as well as several varieties of corkscrews hanging from their mandated utility belt. Their mission is to cultivate an appreciation of fine wines by introducing clients to global varieties—from beaujolais to chianti—while sharing food pairing ideas and recipes, and educating clients about the winemaking process and wine in general.
An online shop organizes varietals, such as montepulciano and gewürztraminer, by their taste profile and country of origin, and sparkling wines are searchable by price point. To deepen their client's connection to their favorite bottle, they may either be etched or emblazoned with custom labels that commemorate an event or deliver a dry thank you.
Toro Sushi Bar invites you to join the bite-sized culinary festivities in a chic modern setting. Its menu features a wide variety of hand-made flavorful treats, from sushi to sashimi to full entrees to tapas. Enjoy the geometric perfection of a Creole Roll with crab, veggies, and seared Cajun tuna ($15) or the insistent adoration of the Loveulongtime Roll, which unites shrimp tempura, crab, avocado, masago and tobiko with a duo of eel and dynamite sauces ($15). If you've chosen to don your "Me and My Sushi and Sashimi – No Two Ways About It" custom tee-shirt, head straight into a carefully orchestrated array of blue fin tuna Maguro, octopus Tako, Hawaiian white tuna Ono, Japanese Red Snapper Carpaccio ($15), and the Kobe Beef Tataki with green onions, garlic chips and crispy red onions ($25). For even smaller eats, peruse the tapas menu for calamari, monkey balls (tempura style mushrooms stuffed with cream cheese, spicy tuna, and avocado), and edamame. You can complement your meal with specialty drinks, sake, wine, and beer.
A person's choice of drink says a lot about them, though admittedly not as much as the fact that they're drinking it from a handmade amphora carved from the crystal skull of a hippogriff. Today's grapey Groupon lets you ooze sophistication and effortless worldliness from every pore without requiring immediate medical attention. For $20, you'll get $40 worth of pours and plates at Versai The Wine Bar, a Euro-like hot spot in Yorba Linda that specializes in rare sips, small plates, and nightly re-creations of Hannibal crossing the Alps using shadowpuppets. Versai The Wine Bar is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Since 1978, the staff of Liquorama has helped visitors navigate the impressive inventory of rare wines, beers, and spirits that line the store's many aisles. Drop in for wine tastings three times a week—Friday evenings include sips from an Enomatic wine dispenser, while Saturday afternoons host enlightening custom tastings designed for groups of 10 or more. The store also stocks a variety of accessories for crafting drinks, hosting parties, and pouring beer into its appropriate glassware.
Phlight's servers pilot plates of traditional Spanish mini meals, bottles of boutique wines, and glasses of international beers between high-rise tables under a roof anchored by rustic wooden rafters. Splash in the savory waters of seafood selections, including tiger shrimp ($14), stuffed squid ($6), and roasted John Dory ($12), whose eye spot observes diners to see if they know the difference between a salad fork and a tuning fork. Poultry dishes abound, wrapping succulent duck meat into soft tacos ($7) and igniting chicken wings with adobo spice ($8), and short ribs mind their beefy business under a sweet sprinkling of brown sugar and ginger ($18). Herbivorous hankerings plant themselves on crispy lentils ($6) or sautéed bok choy ($4), and asparagus ($8), cuddling under the calescent cover of serrano peppers to subvert chilly glares from the ice water.
Though freedom to choose your own pairings is good for believers in true love and eclectic décor, professionally paired flavor combos showcase the best qualities of each ingredient. A retail shop outfitted with a handsome tasting bar, California Wine and Cheese stocks wines produced exclusively in California, regularly consisting of over 200 selections. Wine flights consist of four to five samplings and change every Friday, giving customers a chance to gain a broad appreciation for all kinds of wine. If you've already sampled one or more wines from the flight, just wait a week and new choices of red or white wine will magically appear. To complement the characteristics of each wine, a sampling of imported and domestic cheeses accompanies each flight. Because California Wine and Cheese sells the goods to take home, you can purchase the wines and cheeses you like best to re-create the pairings at home for dinner guests and culinarily curious cats.