How I went from being intimidated by wine to obsessed with wine.

Dear Friends,

Six years ago, I was a devout and committed beer drinker who enjoyed an occasional glass of wine when I found one in front of me. I was rather fond of quoting Tony Bourdain who, in his book Kitchen Confidential, wrote that he drank beer and vodka, but didn't pay much attention to wine as he "couldn't afford another addiction". My love of all things beer duly validated, I felt relieved of any duty to throw good time and money at wine - a subject I knew little enough about, and honestly, found rather intimidating.

But as we got serious about our dinner service, I began to drink a bit more wine (I had to admit, it did go rather well with our bistro menu) and pay more attention. And slowly, my curiosity began to outweigh my trepidation.

Specifically I began to notice that the right bottle of wine added something indefinably lovely to a meal. And nowhere was this more apparent than say, at a quiet weeknight dinner of humble fare and good conversation, enjoyed with a close companion or two with whom I shared a strong feeling of connection.

Rather quickly, I recognized that this giddy, wine influenced experience I prized tended to happen more often with "food wines" - wines that are lower in alcohol and higher in acidity. This allows them to pair well with many different kinds of foods, as acidity cleanses the palate, clearing the way for another bite that might feature salty, sweet or tart flavors.

And as I began to learn more about the details of these kinds of wines - producers, growing areas, grape varietals, etc. - I realized that there is tremendous value to be had even in a relatively modest price range. Today, our wine list is stocked from top to bottom with wines that I believe create the opportunity for this kind of magical experience.

Many people - and back in my beer drinking days, I was certainly one of them - want to drink what they know and feel comfortable with. But for those of you who get curious about the possibilities of expanding your wine horizons, I want to invite you to allow me, or one of my staff, to suggest a wine that might lie just a bit outside your current comfort zone. If, for instance, you always buy by the glass - our bottle markup is quite modest and perhaps you might let us suggest a bottle.

For instance in the $50 range: you might want to try the Tyler chardonnay from one of California's original and premier natural wine makers located in the central coast area near Santa Barbara. Or we've got a number of warm weather wines made by cult producer Arianna Occhipinti in Sicily - these old world wines are different enough from wine styles currently in vogue to both challenge and reward the curious drinker.

If it's a special occasion - lets say it's Friday - and you want to treat yourself, you might consider trying the gamay made by legendary French winemaker, Jean Foillard. It is nothing short of sublime. Or you might choose one of the extraordinary Cabernets or Syrahs that we recently acquired from Arnot Roberts' vineyards in Sonoma. While on the higher end of the wine list, Arnot Roberts is arguably producing the finest wines being made in American today and I have a huge wine crush on them.

Mainly - I just want to say that our entire crew is as excited as I am about sharing the amazing adventure that our wine list has become with you, and I hope you'll let us suggest a bottle next time you're in the restaurant. Just be forewarned - we might talk your ear off about our favorites.

bon appetit,