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I’d just dropped off Thing 1 at a friend’s house and wasn’t quite ready to go back home and face Thing 2. I was in prime holiday mode and it occurred to me that with all of the wine buying I’d been doing (and I was definitely doing my part to help the economy), I’d neglected to get any bubbles to toast my family and friends as well as my good fortunes. Well, I certainly had to fix that. There was a wine bar nearby that I’d gone to in the past so I thought I’d zip in to see what was what. Yes, I know wine tasting is a part of everyone’s typical errand running. But to be fair (to myself) it had been a while since I’d tried any new sparkling wines and I tend to buy the same ones that I’m familiar with. And I can be a bit of a wimp when it comes to wines of the sparkling variety as the bubbles tend to go straight to my head! Because of its effects, I tend to stay away from them during a tasting. But not today.

So I found myself at Sonoma Wine Bar, which is a retail wine bar and restaurant with two locations in the Houston area. I was visiting the location in the historic Heights neighborhood. My husband and I had been to this location on a few occasions and had always had a nice time. It’s perfect for before dinner drinks, dinner itself, or after dinner drinks. No matter what, they have you covered. You defintely can’t go wrong if you’re looking for a place to do some wine tasting in Houston. I’d been in for both pre- and post-dinner drinks and have had some of their delicious meat and cheese trays, but have yet to go for dinner so I will definitely have to work on that. I love the décor of the place, particularly the setup of the couches near the warm fireplace as well as their awesome rooftop patio. The last time I was in, we sat next to the fireplace and shared a great bottle of Orgeon Pinot. They have a nice cozy back patio as well. It had just turned chilly so I decided to sit inside though I saw that they had patio heaters ready to go.

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I really like Sonoma for their collection of wines. They tend to focus more on smaller boutique wines from small lot producers which means you can’t just walk in any store and purchase these wines. So you will definitely get something different. I always love the challenge of going somewhere and trying to find a wine amongst a list of wines that I’m not familiar with. That’s what I get at Sonoma. Though I’d heard of a few of the producers, most were not familiar to me. Perusing the menu, I saw that they had seven different flights from which to choose.

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Of course, with the recent cooler weather, I was tempted to order some bold red wine to warm up, but then remembered why I’d even come in the first place. Bubbles. Focus on the bubbles. So I ordered the “Pretty Bubbles” flight which had wines from France, Italy and California. And for once, I didn’t even give the Pinots a second thought.

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Of the four I tasted, I liked the first one (the Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blanc) the best. It was a beautiful straw color and was smooth and buttery. This one was hands down the “easy drinker” of the bunch. The Charles Bove from France’s Loire Valley was much more earthy with grass and mineral notes and was made predominantly from Chenin Blanc. The Azienda Italian Prosecco Rose from Italy was a very pretty pale pink with some tartness and hints of strawberry. The last and most expensive of the bunch (but still cheaper than most of the available Champagnes) was the Michel Sarrazin Crémant de Bourgogne Brut, which was a blend of predominantly Pinot Noir with a little Chardonnay. This one had lots of citrus but also some smokiness to it. What I really liked about the sparkling flight was that there were two wines featured from France but neither one was from Champagne. When many people think of France, they think of the super expensive wines from the Champagne region (which isn’t completely accurate) so it was nice to learn a bit more about France’s “other” sparkling wines that can be just as good but not bear the Champagne designation.

So I ended up getting a couple of bottles (they sell retail in addition to being a wine bar and restaurant) to add to my collection at home. But what was really nice is that because I was in there so early, I got all of the happy hour deals which entitled me to 20% off my retail wine selections. Hearing that good news, I threw in a bottle of Cabernet Port from California. Gotta take advantage when you can find a deal on Port! Can’t imagine I won’t like it. They also run 20% off specials for different varietals depending on the day of the week. Saturday is 20% off Pinot Noir. I forsee a return visit for a future wine tasting in Houston adventure.

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