Wine Detective, a wine bar run by two couples from South Pasadena and La Cañada, quietly opened on the Commons Plaza in Pasadena about 5 weeks ago. In a pretty “conversation lounge” off the walking mall, the 4 owners pour 48 wines (32 reds and 16 whites) out of Tuscan-made Enomatic tasting machines, which allow customers to taste the wide variety of wines by 1-ounce pours. Although the space does not have a kitchen, there is a lengthy menu of cheeses and charcuterie and small plates of pintxos, or Basque-style open sandwiches, as well as coffee from Coffee Klatch in San Dimas. (Their breads are from nearby EuroPane.)

“We wanted to represent 3 categories of wine,” says Lev Gertsik, one of the four owners, two of whom are practicing local physicians. “Good value, wines with stories, and also expensive and famous wines that people who love wine cannot afford not to taste at least once.”

Instead of hanging artwork, Gertsik asked an art director friend–Dima Malanichev, who also does the collage artwork on the tables–to load some 9,000 Library of Congress prints onto a projector that projects them on shuffle against a large white wall in the lounge. “Mostly we hope to have a neighborhood hangout,” said Gertsik on a recent evening, as shoppers paused to peer through the windows at the photographs rotating on the wall. So why did they call their first business venture Wine Detective? “Because we go and look for clues about good wine,” said co-owner Yulia Meltser. For a list of the wines offered, check the wine list on their website.

Wine Detective: 146 S. Lake Ave, #109, Pasadena; (626) 792-9936.

LA Weekly