The typical wine bar is, at base, a bar that focuses heavily on wine. Another simple, but not always obvious, super-category is a cafe with a wine and beer license.
At WineStyles in Pasadena wines by the glass and snack dishes are available in a calm, cozy setting, occasionally serenaded by local musical groups. The small bar has a few stools around it but most of the seating comes in comfortable leather chairs pulled up to several tables. The lighting is pleasant, plentiful but not harsh and the lengthwise walls are decorated on one side with framed art for sale and on the other side with a huge mural of a glowing summer day in a vineyard.
WineStyles is also a wine boutique and while the seating and bar area may be closed for a private function the mission-styled shop in the front remains open. A clever motif: instead of racks, the wine bottles are featured in alcoves built into shelves along the walls built to resemble adobe arches. Between the shelves are large sturdy tables displaying all manner of wine accoutrement, gifts and accents.
The proprietor, Kathy, has run WineStyles for two and half years. In that time she has established a monthly wine club ($34.95) that grants discounts in the store and for tastings as well as two bottles of wine to each member. Tastings are Thursday through Saturday from 5pm until closing. A handful of wines are chosen by theme for the weekend. The tasting ($20) buys pours of the full flight - typically five wines.
A recent tasting featured pinot noir which ran the gamut from the plain and light Cono Sur to the hefty and velvety Bernardus. A neutral dish of brie, toasted baguette and green apples made the experience quite pleasant. WineStyles also offers beer, bottle water and sodas as well as dessert plates. Only the tasting line up is available in tasting pours. The by-the-glass menu changes by availability but tastes cannot be purchased individually. Fortunately the menu is sizable, though not especially extensive or varied.
WineStyles is open Tuesday & Wednesday 11am-8pm, with local music in the evening on Wed. Thursday hours are 11am-9pm, tasting available and foot traffic from the South Pasadena Farmers' Market is invited. Friday & Saturday hours 11am-10pm, Friday nights features a light jazz group. Sunday hours are 12pm-6pm. WineStyles is located at 1007 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030; call (626)799-4638 for more information.