Sitting rather indiscreetly on a quaint street just off bustling Santa Monica Blvd, this open, lofty wine bar/retail outfit, takes its name after a V-shaped white marble bar that commands the center of the room with an olive tree—incidentally also named “V” as in “Vincent”—that holds court in the center of the bar. Two cozy booths are tucked away on either sides, while hightop tables for parties of four or eight fill the room. It won’t take long to realize that just about every wine on the list is likely foreign to you. Owner “Mikey” Consbruck has curated his list to feature wines from boutique producers he knows personally, weaving each winemaker’s story into every pour. You’ll not only get fruit and floral descriptions, but also short, memorable anecdotes about these small production wines from the staff. And with most bottles falling in the $30-$50 category, its easy and worthwhile to take a few home. A menu of light fare items—nuts, cheeses, charcuterie—helps hunger pains, but are tired accompaniments for such a stellar wine selection. Overall, the experience is refreshing and the stories help infuse memories of what exactly you drank.
Good for: In place of a consistent happy hour, unique daily specials keep things interesting. "Case of the Mondays" is a great day to pick up a case of wine, as the 13th bottle on the house for immediate enjoyment. “Tabletop Tuesday” offers $8 pours, while "Wine Wisdom on Wednesday" schools the curious connoisseur during a $30 class. Call for the complete week's specials.
The scene: Regulars stop in to catch Mike—he's behind the bar most nights—who fills glasses in between crafting cheese plates ($16) or leading a group through one of four flights that feature five wines.
The playlist: There’s no noticeable music scene, just easy background tunes.
The bartender says: Housed in a former library, the bar holds "library cards" on file, noting each glass (or bottle) that was poured, sniffed and sipped at each visit.
Drink this: Wines are listed by varietal (Moscato, Zinfandel, etc.) or under "Blended." If you’re unsure, be clear about what interests you with the staff, who have varying degrees of wine knowledge. Tasting flights ($15-$25) are the best value, with generous pours of five wines from white and red (both $15) to Summer ($15) and Elite ($25). Lovers of Italian varietals must try the 2010 Borjón Sangiovese Reposado ($13, glass; $39, bottle) with succulent, ripe red berry fruit and nice cedar notes, while 2012 Borjón "ECKS" rosé ($10, glass; $29/bottle) makes for a nice summer sipper. There’s also a small selection of craft beer from Santa Barbara county's Figueora Mountain Brewing Company ($12-$13, 22-ounce bottle).