Whether or not you have a particular wine bar that you frequent, or, you’re ready to go out on the town (or, the valley), let’s all celebrate the juice of the vine by stopping over at one of the many wine bars off Palm Canyon Drive/Hwy 111–even if it is just to show that we care and that we will always accommodate a decent request.
The wine lovers among us–well, we keep at least a few good bottles on hand all the time (and then there are those who keep so many bottles—like, hey! invite us over). But there is always some comfort to know we can grab a nice glass of wine at the local wine bar to chat with friends, or be romantic, or even to enjoy our own company and be with our own thoughts.
Also, we hope, that you vacationers and out-of-towners who are either currently enjoying our environs or who are planning to stay around for a bit, get a glimpse and a taste of our favorite wine bars around the Palm Springs/Palm Desert area.
Our simple definition of a wine bar is that it has a decent wine selection. The wine bars we like to frequent are those that stray from the basic cocktail lounge. They should be inviting, not stand-offish: wine snobs need not apply. We like to casually stroll up to the bar, return the bartender’s smile, and hear about an interesting or “sexy” wine that is the deal of the day. And if we are a bit dubious about a selection, the bar is more than happy to pour a taste, as opposed to acting as though we’re breaking the bar’s bank.
One of our go-to wine bars in Palm Desert is at the elegant Cuistot Restaurant at the corner of El Paseo and Hwy 111 We assure you that the bar inside is relaxed and inviting. They have a 40 seat wine/bar room that adjoins their main dining room, and their wine list is not a list. It’s a book. And sooner or later one would get through it all, but keep in mind that they offer more than 20 wines by the glass.
Cozy up to the wine bar or surrounding banquettes and request to check out their by-the-glass wine list as well as the bar entrée menu.
Sommelier Fred Gerber strives to keep the wine list updated and it’s available to peruse on-line. We know—one would assume that a high-end restaurant sometimes equates with exorbitant wine prices. But Fred is cool; he gets it. Sure—he’s got the great expensive stuff, but provides a lot of great deals by the glass and bottle. And while you’re at the bar, you can change speeds an order up a classic cocktail.
Behind the bar is one of the most friendly bartenders we know, Rafael—or Rafa, as he’s known, serves up the most freshest and inventive cocktails in town. And he’s great on the classics.
The 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro, also located in Palm Desert, is a wonderful venue for enjoying a glass of wine. So many glasses of wine to choose from at the bar, and one can purchase a bottle or two from the inclusive wine shop, at a great price, and enjoy it there at the bistro. And Happy Hour prices are always a wonderful deal.
I remember when owner Ed Moore opened up about a year and a half ago. I was last in line to get in and I crowded up to be the first. No one really cared because the Champagne was flowing!
This past week 3rd Corner wine manager, Marc Plummer poured me a fantastic Valdisanti Tuscany red wine blend. They just got it in and it is a delicious treat–especially if you’re not making it over to Italy this year. And wine purveyor Marcus Kempkin can blow you away with all the different selections he gets in from California wineries and around the world. Say hello to the guys for me and I’m certain they’ll give you a great pour!
One of the most popular wine bars in Palm Springs is the Naked Grape Wine Bar., located at 242 N. Canyon Drive, Right at the new year, the Naked Grape has decided to shed off everything (of course) and do a make-over. Look for a new grand opening in the month of February 2012 where the selection of wine will expand and more wine tasting events will be held. It may well be the new wine party central for Palm Springs with great deals, extended happy hours, and the usual art and conversation.
Situated right in the middle of downtown Palm Springs, it’s the place to take a break from shopping and site seeing to relax and enjoy a nice glass of wine or an ice-cold beer for a great price. Stay tuned for all the fun news coming out of the Naked Grape. And remember your New Year’s resolution to treat yourself–every so often to a great glass of wine!
To a wonderful year! CHEERS!
ALERT!! Charity Wine Event: Cielo Vista Charter School ( an independent public school of choice and part of Palm Springs Unifed School District ) is hosting a wine tasting benefit at the O’Donnell House on January 22nd from 5-7pm. Event will be catered by LuLu California Bistro, and, an assortment of premium wines will be served ( look for my favorite Galleano Winery Zinfandel to be poured!). Tickets for the event are $50. per person and include a rare look in and around one of Palm Springs’ most historic homes meticulously restored by the owners of the Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn. Please call 760.699.2939 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick Riozza is the desert’s sommelier-about-town entertaining at private and corporate wine tastings and events. He can be reached at email@example.com