Is Silverlake Wine a religion? Consider what makes it so: devoted followers, a weekly schedule and a straight-up welcoming-to-all philosophy of no pretension at this neighborhood wine shop that specializes in small-production boutique wineries. After eight years, Silverlake Wine tastings have a set ritual. Monday night is the most low-key: three wines, three cheeses and the added lure of the Heirloom L.A. catering truck out front. On Thursday, the weekend kickoff for many, two flights of wine paired with the finest bread and butter. Sunday is the most structured: five wines and five dishes that deliver a true communion of food and wine pairings. Fridays in the summer, the crew pours at a weekly fundraiser at Barnsdall Art Park, where more than 15,000 have been served on Hollyhock House's west lawn (look for it again in 2012). Weekly email blasts, with their amusing, punk-rock prose of wine notes from owner Randy Clement, give specifics on what wines will be poured, avoiding most wine-speak. You will believe that “crazy rare wines, the most exciting wines in existence, bottles to be revered as demigods,” are available to taste. And like all good evangelical groups, there have been many hookups and numerous marriages — even one performed in the back of the store — at this friendly temple of wine. The couple met at a tasting. Believe. 2395 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 662-9024, silverlakewine.com.
—Kathy A. McDonald