A few friends on Friday night migrated from our places of work to Vino Venue before we all headed into our weekends.
Located just South of Market (SOMA) and footsteps away from the SF Museum of Modern Art this wine tasting "bar" has received quite a buzz since its opening in September. For those outside of San Francisco it works like so–you buy a smartcard ($10-$100), receive a wine glass and visit wine stations which are arranged by varietal, insert the smartcard and select the wine choice and a tasting pour is dispensed. Yes, a bit of a novelty.
There’s over 100 wines to choose from in this combination wine bar and retail shop. Unlike a winery tasting room there’s no pressure to buy a bottle. So it’s a very inviting way to try something new. Apparently, after tasting is complete you can have Vino Venue check your smartcard to generate a list.
My sense is that the owners didn’t nearly anticpate the popularity of the concept. I’m certain they are making a lot of money on the concept. My friend C. and I tried to calculate the number of pours per bottle and carry the math out and do a analysis of mark up to margin. We got lost in a cloud of Rhone. Suffice it to say that there’s money being made.
The establishment works on several levels but you certainly can’t linger too long here as, unfortunately, this place is limited in the nibbles. It’s minimal and tasteless and more than overprices for what you get. Ideally I would visit this spot with an out of town wine lover or as finish to a day at SFMOMA–post lunch at the Caffe Museo.
Aside from all the above I did taste a new wine from the "Adventurous" station–Bacio Divino Pazzo 2002 ($26/$2.40 1 oz. taste). This particular blend is unique– 66% sangiovese, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 7% zinfandel, 5% petit sirah and 2% viognier. The wine is full, fruity and has a taste of cherry and plum but overall the taste is not too assertive. As a French-wine drinking friend once remarked to me–you do like a big wine. Italian wines are a favorite of mine.
Photo: Bacio Divino
Vino Venue – 683 Mission Street @ Third, check website for hours
Caffe Museo – 151 Third Street btween Mission & Howard
open late Thurday until 9pm