Bacchus Wine Market & Tasting Room is so cool it probably shouldn't even be allowed to stay open. In the first place, the owners are lying in their jeans when they say “market,” because this Downtown venue doesn't look a bit like a store—the brickery, postmodern lighting and wall décor make you feel like you're in one of those funkoid North Park art galleries, the ones whose plain exteriors can't begin to illustrate the wonders inside. The setting is rarefied and mellow—and, as you'd expect, all that comes at a price, with Bacchus' best fare weighing in at upwards of $110 a bottle.
But the fine young peeps at Bacchus haven't forgotten the rest of us. Their tasting events are moderately priced (most run $15), as are the 10 or so selections at the wine bar, which change weekly. The hook, though, is in the venue's under-$20 selections, which sit no more than an aisle away from the three-figure stuff. Among them is the 2006 Argiolas Costera, a very good Cannonau from Italy's Sardinia region—you might be thrown at first by this one's peppery aftertaste, but that's just the Cannonau grape's way of welcoming you to the table. And the table is where you belong with this one; its beautiful black cherry finish is definitely meant for big fat food, like big fat cheeses and big fat filet mignons and big fat beef dishes. By itself, it's probably going to strike big fat you as too sweet.
The Costera will run you $17.99 a bottle. You might even get it a tad cheaper if you join Bacchus' wine club; if you want to learn to taste it like a pro, check out one of the venue's classes. They're held at 647 G St., which, oddly enough, is also the market's location. Doors are open from 2 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays (the number is 619-236-0005). You'll get a lot here for not much money—and just think how superior you'll feel rubbing elbows with the $110 crowd, whose members are and always will be intrinsically better than you.