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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wine Bar Rebirth in Downtown Monterey

Terranova Fine Wines (333-1313) is back.

And, in a word, better.

They now offer over 30 wines at a time in self-service pours of 1, 3 and 5 ounces, with prices differing depending on the size and the provenance of the bottle (the 1 ounce servings run $1 to $2.20; 5-ouncers go $5 to $14). You get a little card, pad it with what you want to spend, pop it in the slot at the red wine island (pictured above) or white wine wall panel (below), it deducts the amount and the automated dispenser pours your juice.

The wines for sale include everything from white Bordeaux to Pessagno Pinot. Old World and New World in your modern goblet.

Meanwhile, it’s a $5 fee for five tastes of Richard Oh's Otter Cove Pinots, Syrahs, Merlots and Chardonnays (his premium Pinot is very good—though the reserve flight's $8 for seven tastes) at the bar, which gets waived with any purchase of a bottle ($16.50-$45).

Jeff Alexander, seen here demonstrating the tasty technology, is the manager. He collaborates with owner Kelli Gillam to curate the wine selection. "Most of the wine is California wines," he says. "We'd like to be known for California wines. The vast majority of the California wines are boutique wines." Think Bo√ęte, Joyce and McIntyre.

The values look good. As Alexander says, "Our price is the same you'll on the winery's own website or a little bit less."

The three flat screen TVs and comfy chairs tip the idea that this is intended to be more a hang-out than a house of overly refined sniffing. Lallapalooza delivers quesadillas, oysters, seared ahi and a variety of pizzas through a little partnership—Alexander says it takes 15 minutes. A handful of bottle beers like England's Samuiel Smith and all three Chimay labels plus a pair of French beers served in corked 750-milliliter bottles, plus Heineken and Shock Top suspects.

The joint's open daily noon to 8pm (or until foot traffic stops) and Sunday until 6pm. Don't be an ass, raise a glass.