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, $32.992008 Domaine Fouassier Quincy, $17.99Bring to: Beckham Grill, 77 W. Walnut St., Pasadena, 626-796-3399, beckhamgrill.com
2008 Tres Ojos Calatayud Old Vines Garnacha, $7.952006 Colina Verde Rioja, $14.992009 Trajarinho Vinho Verde, $9.992009 Vionta Albario Ras Baixas, $13.99Bring to: Bar Celona, 46 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-405-1000, barcelonapasadena.comEl Cholo, 958 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, 626-441-4353, elcholopasadena.comIX Tapa Cantina, 119 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-304-1000, cantinaixtapa.com
- French/California bistro
2008 Domaine Anne Gros Bourgogne Rouge, $29.992009 Domaine les Gryphees (Pierre Durdilly) Moulin–Vent, $19.992009 Francis Blanchet Pouilly-Fume, $21.99Bring to: Cafe Bizou, 91 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, 626-792-9923, cafebizou.comGreen Street Tavern, 69 W. Green St., Pasadena, 626-229-9961, greenstreettavern.netThe Terrace at The Langham Huntington, 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena, 626-585-6218, pasadena.langhamhotels.com
- Italian cuisine
2004 Prunotto Barolo, $53.992007 Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico, $12.992008 Cascina Degli Ulivi Gavi, $16.99Bring to: Celestino Ristorante, 141 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, 626-795-4006, calogerodrago.comVilla Sorriso, 168 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-793-8008, sorrisopasadena.com
2007 Au Bon Climat Knox Alexander Pinot Noir, $41.992007 Dierberg Syrah Santa Ynez Valley, $31.992006 Ici/La-Bas Chardonnay Victoria Elke Vineyard, $27.99Bring to: Elements Kitchen, 37 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 626-440-0044, elementskitchen.comTechnique at Le Cordon Bleu, 525 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-229-1377, techniquerestaurant.com
Tozai Snow Maiden Junmai Nigori Sake, $13.99Watari Bune Junmai Ginjo 55, $36.99Bring to: Japon Bistro, 927 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-744-1751, japonbistro-pasadena.com
- French/Japanese fusion
2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Clos du Bourg, $32.992005 Domaine de Vieux Lazaret Chteauneuf-du-Pape, $42.99Bring to: Maison Akira, 713 E. Green St., Pasadena, 626-796-9501, maisonakira.com
2007 Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Revilo, $84.99Bring to: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, 369 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-583-8122, ruthschris.com
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.
“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.
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.
“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