Taste of Wine

Yes, there is fine wine and dining in Oceanside

It took the leading restaurateur in San Diego, the Cohn Group, to make it happen. David and Leslie Cohn gained respect in the marketplace with such winners as The Prado, Island Prime, Indigo Grille and others. Now, add 333 Pacific, across from the pier in Oceanside, to this prestigious list. It’s a steak, chop and seafood format with an ambitious and unique wine menu.
The visually striking dining room and bar is accented by two wine cellars. The larger of the two will serve as a wine and dinner events room. The one shown in the photo is stocked with bottles on the menu, which is the most progressive and easy to understand wine list I have ever seen. Beyond the usual whites and reds by the glass, you can find wines by female wine makers, 90 point wines, eco wines, medium-bodied reds, full-bodied reds, European wines and a generous choice of half bottles, something I have pushed for in finer restaurants.
Brian Ross, 333 Pacific’s wine manager, brought out and opened a 2005 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford in the Napa Valley. “This small production wine is bold and complex,” he declared. “I list it in my Eco group. The wine is a product of organic and bio-dynamic farming. It’s all about minimal or no chemicals added, using natural techniques to enhance growth. The wines are not high in alcohol and partner easier with food,” he said.
333 Pacific’s food menu is seamlessly created by Executive Chef Randy Miller who has achieved a brilliant reputation, initially at the world-class Le Cordon Bleu Academy in Paris where he was first in his class, then professionally as a personal chef that enabled him to cater to top celebrities and elected officials.
The restaurant’s general manager is Deborah Lamoureux, who told me that the panoramic white-water ocean location at the base of the new Wyndham Hotel and the quality wine and food menu, have drawn a great number of locals as well as visitors to the prime beach property.
Here’s a tip: ”Wine Wednesdays” offer a 50 percent discount on selected bottles of wine, and “3 on Thursdays” has a special three-course dinner for just $33. Reservations can be made at (760) 433-3333.
Access their Web site at www.cohnrestaurants.com.
You can be a certified wine connoisseur
One of the most asked questions I get is how I became a certified wine connoisseur. While this entitlement is nowhere near as prestigious as a master wine sommelier, the height of certified professional wine knowledge, it establishes a sense of the value of wine and enables the recipient to display proof of having crossed the finish line of courses designed to bring the wine aficionado to the next level of education.
Enrolling is as easy as accessing www.winespectatorschool.com.
This leading wine trade magazine is a must-read to keep up with the thousands of wine varietals in the world. Once you have accessed, you will see specific courses to match your interests: Wine Tasting, Understanding Wine, Wine & Food Pairing, Italian, French, California, Australian and many more. Each electronic course is approximately $49 and lasts about 12 weeks. Some have a higher degree of difficulty than others, but everything is spelled out when you hit the “learn more” button, and when you enroll. A combination essay and multiple choice exam finalizes your eligibility to become a certified wine connoisseur.
Wine Bytes
— Eli’s Food & Wine in Del Mar Heights, from 4 to 6 p.m. April 9, is presenting Kent Rosenblum of Rosenblum Cellars of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, a winemaker of the highest quality since 1978. Ninety-plus rated Zinfandel and Syrah wines will be tasted for $5. Buy a bottle and Rosenblum will sign it. Call (858) 481-2323 for details.
— An Easter Wine Hunt will be happening April 10 and April 11 at Vino 100 in San Marcos at Plaza Las Posas. A special bottle of wine, if you can find it, is just $1! Tastings include South American favorites from light Torrontes to bold Malbec. For more information, call (760) 591-9113.
— Two wine events in April for 3rd Corner Encinitas include from 2 to 5 p.m. April 11 a West Coast Wine event for $10, and from 2 to 5 p.m. April 25 is Organic and Biodynamic Wines, also for a $10 fee. Call (760) 942-2104 for details.
— Jim Barrasso’s Firefly Grill & Wine Bar has the Wines of Argentina Tasting from 5 to 7 p.m. April 15. Taste eight of the 90 point names and enjoy passed appetizers. The cost is $20 per person. Call (760) 635-1066 for more information.
— Join the fun, with Italian food and wines at 6 p.m. April 18 in the Barrel Room of Belle Marie Winery north of Escondido off Highway 215, for an elegant five-course meal representing the cuisine of the entire boot of Italy. Premium Belle Marie and Chateau Dragoo Italian style wines will royally wash it down. Hear Winemaster Mick Dragoo and Master Chef Guiseppe di Giovanni narrate this special event. The cost is $89 and includes all. RSVP at (760) 796-7557.