Your guide to Bring Your Own Wine Wednesdays in Pasadena

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Through August 31, participating restaurants in Pasadena are offering corkage-free Wednesdays. The Bring Your Own Wine (BYOW) Wednesdays program is sponsored by the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau, and it aims to drum up dine-in business for local eateries on what is a traditionally slow night.
On the way to a mid-week dinner, pick up a bottle or two, and start with these general pairing suggestions from Monopole Wine boutique owner Peter Nelson. (Prices are approximate and subject to change and availability.) Plus, read more about Monopole after the jump.
  • English cuisine
2004 Chateau Larruau Margaux, $32.99
2008 Domaine Fouassier Quincy, $17.99
Bring to: Beckham Grill, 77 W. Walnut St., Pasadena, 626-796-3399, beckhamgrill.com
  • Mexican/Spanish/tapas
2008 Tres Ojos Calatayud Old Vines Garnacha, $7.95
2006 Colina Verde Rioja, $14.99
2009 Trajarinho Vinho Verde, $9.99
2009 Vionta Albario Ras Baixas, $13.99
Bring to: Bar Celona, 46 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-405-1000, barcelonapasadena.com

El Cholo, 958 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, 626-441-4353, elcholopasadena.com

IX Tapa Cantina, 119 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-304-1000, cantinaixtapa.com
  • French/California bistro
2008 Domaine Anne Gros Bourgogne Rouge, $29.99
2009 Domaine les Gryphees (Pierre Durdilly) Moulin–Vent, $19.99
2009 Francis Blanchet Pouilly-Fume, $21.99
Bring to: Cafe Bizou, 91 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, 626-792-9923, cafebizou.com

Green Street Tavern, 69 W. Green St., Pasadena, 626-229-9961, greenstreettavern.net

The Terrace at The Langham Huntington, 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena, 626-585-6218, pasadena.langhamhotels.com
  • Italian cuisine
2004 Prunotto Barolo, $53.99
2007 Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico, $12.99
2008 Cascina Degli Ulivi Gavi, $16.99
Bring to: Celestino Ristorante, 141 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, 626-795-4006, calogerodrago.com

Villa Sorriso, 168 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-793-8008, sorrisopasadena.com
  • Eclectic
2007 Au Bon Climat Knox Alexander Pinot Noir, $41.99
2007 Dierberg Syrah Santa Ynez Valley, $31.99
2006 Ici/La-Bas Chardonnay Victoria Elke Vineyard, $27.99
Bring to: Elements Kitchen, 37 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-440-0044, elementskitchen.com

Technique at Le Cordon Bleu, 525 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-229-1377, techniquerestaurant.com
  • Japanese
Tozai Snow Maiden Junmai Nigori Sake, $13.99
Watari Bune Junmai Ginjo 55, $36.99
Bring to: Japon Bistro, 927 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-744-1751, japonbistro-pasadena.com
  • French/Japanese fusion
2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Clos du Bourg, $32.99
2005 Domaine de Vieux Lazaret Chteauneuf-du-Pape, $42.99
Bring to: Maison Akira, 713 E. Green St., Pasadena, 626-796-9501, maisonakira.com
  • Steak
2007 Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Revilo, $84.99
Bring to: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, 369 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-583-8122, ruthschris.com

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With dramatic pendant light fixtures, a lengthy center aisle and sky-high ceilings, it’s no wonder visitors to Pasadena’s Monopole Wine boutique say the place reminds them of a church. Or, alternately, a library.
Sticking with the analogy of ecclesiastical architecture, there’s no question as to what represents the “altar”: It’s the tasting bar, which resides at the far end of the long and narrow space.
“(The antique fixtures) kind of set the tone, really for the whole space,” says Peter Nelson, co-owner of Monopole Wine, which opened its doors in mid-November 2010.
“And these are the pews and the aisles,” Nelson says, pointing out the nooks of shelving that branch off from the center aisle.
“I gotta wear a collar or something,” he jokes.
Nelson presides with his business partner Hiro Tamaki over Monopole’s retail store — including its painstakingly curated, high-quality inventory — and over the companion wine bar, which serves as a casual tasting room and pedagogical space.
The owners host specialized tastings and classes, held in the mezzanine overlooking the shop’s pristine rows of display cabinets.
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“We really want to focus on education and exploration of wines,” Nelson says. “We want a bar where we’re going to have informative flights, where people are going to learn something.”
The name Monopole, which means monopoly in French, is a term used on wine labels to indicate sole ownership of a vineyard by a producer or winery.
Nelson says it was by luck that he and Tamaki stumbled upon the space that was to become Monopole on South El Molino in the Playhouse District.
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Opening a wine bar on the historic 1927 property turned out to be a unique twist of fate.
Built in teetotaling Pasadena, the building’s architects most likely had no idea they were creating a desirable space for the housing of temperature-sensitive alcoholic beverages. The structure itself affords a naturally cool environment, perfect for the cellaring and selling of fine wines.
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“It’s so ideally suited for a wine store,” Nelson says, “because of the high ceilings, because of the thick concrete walls, because of the northern exposure, which is really important because we don’t get direct sunlight.”
“It was built right at the height of Prohibition,” he says, “and it turned into a wine store.”
21 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. 626-577-9463, monopolewine.com
(File photos)

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