New Reno wine bar appeals to adventurous drinkers
The wine bar is dead! Long live the wine bar!
West Street Wine Bar closed on March 31 after a decade pouring from its West Street Market storefront in downtown Reno. A day later, Esoteric wine bar debuted in the same space. Serge Johal, owner of Thali restaurant next door, signed a lease for the space.
The change hasn't occurred without confusion.
ESOTERIC WINE BAR
Address: 148 West St., in West Street Market
Rewards program: Text Thali to 775-238-9928 to receive a 10 percent off coupon for the first visit
On the web:Uncork here
The old West Street Wine Bar sign remains, a fact that leads "a lot of people to think that we're still West Street Wine Bar or" — if they've heard of the closing but not specifics — "that we're West Street Wine Bar in the process of shutting our doors," said Michelle Miller, who runs Esoteric and creates its wine list.
A new sign, she added, is on its way. In the meantime, "this is all me. I want to make this a fun place. I really want to spend time with people and talk to them about the wines."
Like West Street Wine Bar before it, those wines at Esoteric tend toward the small-production, the unusual, the offbeat, many of them appealing to adventurous drinkers.
In other words, "you're not going to come in here and get Rombauer," Miller said. "There are plenty of great places in Reno to get Rombauer."
Instead, you'll find the Scaia chardonnay, a sunny blend of chardonnay and the garganega grape widely planted in Italy. Or a rosé of the rare tibouren varietal — at once floral and full-bodied — from the Close Cibonne estate in southern France.
On the domestic red tip, think pinot noir from Pip, a lesser-known Sonoma Coast producer, or a Walton cabernet sauvignon whose subtlety places it outside the mainstream of brawny Napa Valley cabs.
Miller, who is a certified specialist of wine and who has worked for several area distributors, also is a fiend for bubbles.
"I definitely want to bring in more Champagne and other sparkling wines," she said.
The wine list at Esoteric features more than 40 wines by the glass, and many of these are available by the carafe or bottle.
The wine list changes significantly at least once a week, Miller said, partly because she wants to keep the list compelling, and partly because storage is limited to Esoteric shelves and the back bar (there's no basement.)
Having so many wines by the glass, and in such variety, makes it easier for Miller to help people pair their pours with food from West Street Market restaurants open in the evening: Thali, The DeLuxe, Sabrina's West Street Kitchen and the Pizza Collective.
For instance, "if people ask me what wine they should have with their pizza, I can grab some sauce, taste it, then recommend a pairing," Miller said.
"They can take my wine and go anywhere or they can bring their food here. We are all supporting each other."
Up ahead: charcuterie plates, a possible wine dinner with The DeLuxe and offbeat spirits.
"Not a vodka and soda," Miller said. "Cool spirits. Something geekier."