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Vine & Barrel, Petaluma’s premier independent wine seller, recently opened its doors at 113 Petaluma Blvd N., a few doors down from Starbucks.  I have a feeling this Main Street location will finally give V&B the exposure it deserves.  Petaluma local, Jason Jenkins (who is also an Argus-Courier wine columnist, and all-around nice guy) will find you just the right wine, even if you are budget minded.

What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?  ~ W. C. Fields

 Why not just pick up your wine with your groceries, like everyone else?  Admittedly, the quality of our local wine makes it fairly easy to pick a passable wine from supermarket shelves, but do you really want to pick your wine based on the prettiest label?  It’s wine, it tastes fine…so what’s the big deal, right?  Wrong.

Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures. ~ Michael Broadbent

 I used to wonder why my friends seemed to get more out of their wine experience than I did.  Finding wines that pair well with your meals doesn’t happen by accident, and takes more than an Interweb search for “which wine goes with steak.”  The next time you are in a good restaurant (like my favorite – Sugo), ask for a wine suggestion from your wait staff or sommelier (a French for “a wine dude or dudett”.)  Do yourself a favor and listen to the suggestion, even if they tell you to try the zin but you normally prefer merlot.  You will be surprised at how enhanced your wine and food experience will be when they are paired properly.  (I am more impressed with a small but informed wine list than a large, random one.)  Culinary occasions involve more than just a bottle of wine and some good food; you need to elicit a wine seller’s expertise.  In that regard, Jason at V&B is a pro. 

When it comes to wine, I tell people to throw away the vintage charts and invest in a corkscrew. The best way to learn about wine is the drinking.~ Alexis Lichine

 Jason is more than happy to answer all your wine questions, so go into Vine & Barrel ready to learn something new.  V&Bs new set-up is warm, comfortable, and especially conducive to facilitating great conversation.  The 20+ seat wine bar is welcoming, offers a great forum for wine tasting events and craft brews, and also promises to tempt our palettes with a selection of tapas in the near future.  And don’t be surprised if Jason offers you a taste of something he has newly discovered.  Yesterday I was invited to try a superb Italian dessert wine that I can’t wait for him to stock regularly.  On another occasion he invited me to join him for an impromptu tasting of a wine vendor’s sampling.  Unlike many wine purveyors, Jason passes no judgment; he understands that customers have very subjective palettes when it comes to wine.  For example, I have been searching for a port with more spice than sweet, similar to Ledson’s 2005 dessert wine. Jason asked me which flavors I liked and disliked, narrowed down what appealed to me, and then suggested a fairly priced Portuguese wine that matched my taste precisely. 

There are no standards of taste in wine… Each man’s own taste is the standard, and a majority vote cannot decide for him or in any slightest degree affect the supremacy of his own standard.~ Mark Twain

 And if you thought wine shops only sold expensive wine, then you need to peruse V&B’s extensive “under $10” section – my personal favorite when I want to bring something new to try at a dinner party.  Were your common wine shop will try to sell you a higher end wine, Jason is happy to sell you whatever you want so long as he gets the opportunity to enhance your wine drinking experiences.  Whether you want just one bottle or you want future suggestions specifically designed around your tastes and buying patterns, shopping at V&B will always pay dividends.

Like human beings, a wine’s taste is going to depend a great deal on its origins and its upbringing. ~ Linda Johnson-Bell

 V&B offers a great selection of wines from around the world as well as local selections, including the best selection of Petaluma wines.  In addition, Jason offers a great (and affordable) wine club membership that provides discounts on monthly food and wine events, some of which have become Petaluma institutions, such as “½ Zapped,” the Zinfandel festival held each August. 

Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized. ~ Andre Simon

 Jason is also bringing back his restaurant corkage program to help drive business and support the local economy.  Restaurants will waive corkage fees if you purchase your wine from V&B and bring it with you to dinner.  This benefits not only your wine budget but also your taste buds since Jason is familiar with our local eateries, and can pair your wine appropriately.  (Check with Jason for participating restaurants.  If your favorite isn’t listed ask them to join V&B in cross promoting our community.)

Wine gives a man nothing; it only puts in motion what is already there. ~ Samuel Johnson

 Whether you like to learn more about wine or just need a good bottle to go with dinner, stop by Vine & Barrel for a look.  Let Jason educate you with his vast wine knowledge, and you will find your wining and dining experiences mature like our local wine country harvest.

You haven’t drunk too much wine if you can still lie on the floor without holding on. ~ Dean Martin

For more information visit www.vineandbarrel.com

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