By Rick Riozza

Around this hot time of year, I usually get a bunch of comments about where & when, how & why I should be writing or at least commenting on some of the wonderful and refreshing wine venues happening around town.

So here you go . . .

A shout-out to my cocktilian friends, Alfredo and Hector, over at the Steakhouse Restaurant & Bar in the Aguas Caliente Resort & Spa. These guys are real pros when it comes to mixology. They can make the driest and tastiest Martinis in town at the $6 Happy Hour. They also pour a nice big glass of house red or white that you can enjoy at the bar or to go while you play in the casino.

A lot of characters go in and out of this bar but these bartenders remain the consummate gentlemen and are a delight to watch work. Enjoying appetizers or even a great dinner while sitting at the bar is an added treat.

A couple of my favorite Italian haunts are Pinzimini located in the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Michael’s Pizzeria over at The River Shopping Mall.

Although the Italian fare at Pinzimini is generally Tuscan in theme, when I walk in the place, it’s like strolling into a chic Milano ristorante. The venue is elegant but you quickly notice things are casual and you’re ready to enjoy la bella vita di far niente. Celebrate Wine Down Wednesdays at the bar or at the table, where over 40 wines by the glass are half-off wine list price. This means Veuve Cliquot Champagne at only $10 a flute; or Cakebread Napa Chardonnay at $11, Chiarello Piemontese Gavi $6, and Allegrini Palazzo della Torre, Veneto at $6 a glass. BeviamoTutti!!

By the way—on alternating Wednesdays in July at 6pm, join Chef Shawn Aoki in an interactive pizza-making class to help you perfect the art of pizza and utilizing Pinzimini’s hot brick oven; and, include Craft Beer pairing from CV Brewery. On other Wednesdays, look for pasta making and wine pairings. What a fun deal at only $25 for the night’s event. Andiamo Tutti! And valet service is always free for diners. Reservations: 760-770-2150

When Michael’s Pizzeria opened up a couple of years ago, I think my family were the first patrons in and we christened the large round table in the corner by drinking bottles of Prosecco. As we expected (they already had a place in Naples) the food was delicious and impressive. Zagat says this is “one of the top pizza joints in the US.” They’ve been advertising here in the CV Weekly; check out their coupon and munch away! Mangiamo Tutti!

We spoke to Manager Mateo who said they’ve got 2 for 1 Tuesdays where all glasses of wine (5 or 8oz.) are: Buy one get another for just 25 cents! (includes beer too). So I’ll be getting two 8oz glasses of my favorite Barbera D’Alba for only $11.25! 760.341.4222

Roy’s has expanded their “Aloha Hour”, 4:30-7pm every day with $6 wine selections that include, Minetto Prosecco, Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc, Greystone CellarsMerlot & DisenoMalbec just to name a few. By the way, they’re also serving $3 Kona Brewery Craft Beer along with tasty $6 appetizers.  (760) 340-9044

SPECIAL ALERT!! AJ’s on the Green & SPLASH! Bar located in the Date Palm Country Club in Cathedral City/Rancho Mirage, was affected by a fire in the adjacent Clubhouse. We hope Art & John get the gas back on so we can enjoy their delicious and very reasonably priced cuisine. Hopefully they’re back open for the July 4th Weekend. Would our wine community please get over there and support the staff & the business. C’mon—it’s what we do. Thanks.

SPLASH! Bar really has it going on with their eclectic nightly music scene, and, the Happy Hour $4 glass of wines which include an enchanting Granacha from Spain and a real charming Chardonnay from France. And did you know their Happy Hour in the summer is all day long! 760.202.1111

Of course no wine haunt list is complete unless the ubiquitous Fique Mediterranean is on it. Everybody in town writes about how great the cuisine is. I know I’ve written about it several times in the last couple of days. But Jeez! Enough already about how Chef de Mélogue is the best chef in the inner solar system and that restaurateur Lee Morcus is the King of the World.

And we know already that they only serve the finest foods at their peak of freshness and their menus constantly evolve with the seasons as they source organic, sustainable, wild, hormone-free and antibiotic-free ingredients—enough!

But is anyone going to write and talk about Fique’s full-time sommelier, Joe Mascari? He is one of the most personable and friendly wine guys around—if you have a question or wish a recommendation, please make a point of speaking with him.

I really like his wine program right now: On Tuesdays its Half Off Bottled Wines which is a great deal as their wine list is stellar! This means I get a bottle of Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco for $14!! A 2010 Damilano Roero Arneis, a captivating white, for $21! And the 2010 Vietti Perbacco, Nebbiolo for only $30!

On Wednesdays, there is no Corkage Fee in the dining room. Yes Martha, that means we can bring in our own fabulous bottle of wine we’ve been saving. Joe the Somm will provide flawless wine service most graciously. 760.698.9040


Rick is your somm-about-town and the wine steward at Pavilions in Rancho Mirage, conducting & entertaining at wine events & tastings. Contact

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