Though owner Edgar Poureshagh brings up that his newly opened 3Twenty Wine Lounge in Hollywood is family-owned and operated, it's easy to forget until you place a call at 1 a.m., expecting to leave a message inquiring about the cheese plate. Unbeknownst to you, the number on 3Twenty's Facebook page calls the cell phone he keeps on at all hours, and before you know it, you've woken up a groggy Poureshagh. He politely answers your questions before heading back to sleep.
And yet, since June 20th, 3Twenty has been operating some of the most advanced and diverse wine pouring systems in town, specializing in offering four or five mini tastes of a variety of small production and rare wines. For customers to pour themselves tastes of one of the 55 wines offered by the glass, they need only an electronic card, a sense of adventure and the inert noble gas argon. Here's how it works.
You slide your electronic card, which you've acquired either by prepaying or by leaving your credit card at the bar, through the slots at one of three wine dispensing machines. Whether by speaking with Poureshagh or by reading his typed descriptions you'll learn, for example, that the Domaine de la Fouquette Rosé is especially perfect to drink on the patio a few steps away or that the Wegeler 2006 PURE Riesling tastes like "sod, with notes of flowers, stone fruit, petrol and honeysuckle." Press the red button for an automated pour of 50 ml., in Poureshagh's view just enough to get the full experience and remember how you feel about it, while keeping costs low enough to try four or five.
"It's a $2 gamble" Poureshagh said. Prices hover around the $2 to $4 range, with the least expensive pour sold for $1.50, though a rare vintage such as the 1987 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon can cost up to $15. He explained that he can pour tastes of more expensive bottles because his wine dispensing machines pump argon into the bottles, meaning he won't have to throw out a bottle in two or three days. The argon won't react with the wine, oxygen doesn't touch it, and it can least for up to four weeks.
Poureshagh credits the local reception for a strong start, the average bottle changed in only 2.7 days. "Even when the restaurant is packed, the valet is half empty because all the locals are walking up to the restaurant," he said.
Soon, Poureshagh and his family will be amongst those walking to 3Twenty, having found a house just a block away where he hopes to move in soon. His father does the accounting, his mother chooses the artists whose works will be rotating through the space, his wife manages the wine orders, and his sister handles the marketing and then covers for him the one night of the week when he's away, as he studies at Pepperdine to earn his educational doctorate.
To keep with his wine bar's family-owned ethos, Poureshagh buys only from family owned and small batch wineries. Around 75% of wines are certified organic, 25% are certified biodynamic organic, and all are sustainable except the Amarone and some of the champagnes. He plans to change 25 of the wines per month, depending on the theme. First are riojas and the wines featuring the tempranillo grape variety. Each month then will help guests to learn about a new region.
Chef de cuisine Nicole Ball, on Bobby Flay's opening team at New York City's Bar Americain, cooks dishes meant to be paired with a wide variety of wines. The menu, decided in collaboration with Ball, Poureshagh and consultant chef Michelle Sallah -- a veteran of Bar Marmont and New York City's Spotted Pig -- features dishes such as braised lamb over polenta ($11), jidori chicken served with kale and tomato ($12) and a green tomato gazpacho with goat cheese croutons ($9).
Poureshagh, who switched careers from finance in 2006, was surprised to discover that he hasn't been a nervous wreck since opening 3Twenty. "I haven't slept nervously one night since this opened," he said. "I put two houses on mortgage. I put every penny that me and my family owned into this. But since it's opened, I've been happy."