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 LA catering truck out front. Thursday, the weekend kick-off for many, two flights of wine paired with the finest bread-and-butter. Sunday is the most structured, five wines and five dishes and delivers 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.
Some of Clement's recent wine notes:
Thall [sic] shall need no real reason to decide to blow off some steam.
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The beverages this evening are all crafted by talented young people who stand at the forefront of the wine world's next generation. They make wines that transcend and in some cases blow away efforts by their often relaxed and complacent contemporaries. The same way the band Nirvana, with one song, made acts like Poison, Warrant, White Snake, and all the other great Hair Bands of the 80's all a lot less relevant.
Tour De Force of French Whites and Reds Tonight. Syrah, Syrah, Syrah, all from the Northern Rhone. Crafted by some of the members of Rhone Valley Red Wine Making Royalty. Meeting some of these guys in France a few years ago was one of those experiences where the gospel singers sing, the light gets bright, and the world slows down enough that what didn't seem to make sense before is now perfectly clear.
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's been many a hook-up, numerous marriages and one performed in the back of the store at this friendly temple of wine. The couple met at a tasting. Believe!
Yes, it's that time of year again, or almost. This is one of over 400 pieces that will be appearing in our upcoming Best of L.A. issue, out October 6th.