Owner Jenna Rousseau opened Central Wine Bar, located next to Clever Koi and salon Model Citizen on Central Avenue, in February of 2014, bringing with her experience from working in Italy and San Francisco wineries. To be an expert in wine is to be an expert in service, and Rousseau has developed a place where guests can enjoy great wine served by bartenders that have both skill and knowledge.
The menu at Central Wine offers selections of white, red, and sparkling wines by the glass, and a short list of half bottles for sharing. Beer on draught is also available, as well as non-alcoholic beverages including espresso drinks, sweets like shortbread cookies, and charcuterie and cheese boards provided by French Grocery.
The wine bar also serves wine flights, which give guests with the opportunity to sample multiple wines from the menu. Consisting of three half-glass pours, flights can be self-designed, or fall into categories like "California Whites," "Italian Reds," or "Sparkling Wine." The bartenders can also assist in selecting wines for a personalized flight.
On our visit, we asked our bartender to help make selections for our "California Whites" wine flight. He chose a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Round Pond Winery in Napa, a 2013 "Ode to Lulu" rosé from Bedrock Wine Co. in Sonoma, and a 2013 Chardonnay from Vinum Cellars in Monterey. Before we started in on the wine, our bartender told us a little story about the Vintner at Bedrock Wine Co., Morgan Twain-Peterson, who allegedly crafted his first wines at the age of five.
The bartender also offered feedback to our thoughts about the wine as we went through the flight. He seemed to appear whenever we needed something, but gave us plenty of space to savor our wine independently.
The wine menu is updated every few weeks, and bottles from the modest, well-curated retail shop at the west end of the bar can be purchased for in-house consumption for an additional $5 corkage fee.
Happy Hour deals include buy-one, get-one 50 half-off wine flights until 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, a charcuterie board and wine flight for $30, and $15 flights on Thursday nights. Central Wine regularly hosts wine tastings and events open to their public, which the wine bar advertises on the Central Wine website, Facebook, and Instragram.