By Rick Riozza

Last issue we took a moment to address the wine newbies in our readership. We know of nothing better than to welcome into the wine game some new folks who are showing an interest into the wide wonderful world of wine.

One of most fun and immediate ways for wine newbies to quickly come up to speed with either their wine snobby neighbors or their best vino friends is to check out and visit their friendly neighborhood wine bar.

First off, let’s situate ourselves: a good wine gets you in the game to experience and enjoy both the bold and the subtle. And that glass or bottle staring you in the face is in need of a sensitive and interested drinker. With just a little practice one can really appreciate what “tasting wine” is all about, and, go on to confidently share your likes and dislikes.


A good starting point is to learn the right tasting technique. I know—you’re thinking, Hey! I know how to taste—tell me something I don’t know. Keep in mind, a full sensory perception includes viewing the wine’s color as it swirls in the glass, sniffing while swirling and smelling the “nose” and “bouquet” from the glass, and then taking a good mouthful, swishing the wine in the mouth to expose all the taste buds arrayed on the tongue. After swallowing the wine, take the time to enjoy its “finish”—the lasting remnants of flavor that can appreciably linger.

Ultimately wine is about your pleasure. The most important standard of taste is yours. Wine experts cannot tell you what you like. More and more wine newbies are up and about as wine consumption is experiencing a steady rise and our local wine bars are providing the best venues for discovery, learning, and most importantly—tasting!

And now: A quick shout-out of some local wine bars we like to visit:

Counter Reformation at the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs. 4200 E. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs Thursday – Monday, 4 to 11 p.m.; closed Tuesday & Wednesday;

(760) 770-5000;

Opened last year, this wine bar has become one of the go-to venues around town. There are a couple of reasons, at least. First, a chic 1920s speakeasy designed vino nook that’s situated at the cool and venerable Palm Springs hotel haunt where a very friendly bar staff is pouring a beautiful array of wines to enjoy and ponder by the glass for $7 or $12, depending on the amount desired.

The second reason is that the esteemed “Master Chef of Coachella Valley,” Monsieur Hervé Glin, is the Executive Chef at the Parker. And he loves this new wine bar in his jurisdiction; he loves popping in to chat with the patrons; and when he’s so inclined, he loves fashioning tapas and appetizers to pair with the wines of the month served. Nothing more need be said—just show up sometime.

Wanted: Dead or Alive, 150 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, Ca. 92264 Monday-Thursday 5pm-12am, Friday and Saturday 6pm-1am, closed Sunday;  (760) 864-7193 E-Mail:

Obviously I couldn’t resist that quick intro. Dead or Alive is the clever beer and wine bar that has an enormous amount of wine tasting and drinking events happening at any given day of the week that they are open. Get on their email list to stay current!

I met the owner, Christine Soto, just around the time she opened the place in 2016. I even snuck in one evening and wrote about the bar, and, the orange orb décor that accompanied my piece. Actually, I met Christine at Mindy Reed’s Zin Bistro where Mindy was featuring the Wines of Walla Walla, where the winemaker was there for a fabulous dinner. (I just saw Mindy over at the Restaurant Week Kick-off Party; this fun matriarch of Palm Springs eateries has a bunch of news. We’ll cover her recent restaurant endeavors soon.)

Keeping the faith at the Le Fe Wine Bar, 73900 El Paseo Palm Desert, CA 92211; (760) 565-1430.

This is one of the newer wine bars on the block and I’m throwing all of my support to this east-end Palm Desert venue for all the success it deserves. I’ve only been there once and I was so impressed with the ambiance, the appetizers, the quick dishes, beer flights, and the wine-by-the-glass options. Oh—not to mention hitting it off with the two young owners, Richard and German, who exhibit integrity and dedication to the craft.

I had heard about this place—somewhere across the street from Mitch’s Restaurant near Portola? Anyway—I also remember hearing that the new owners re-established the business as a wine-bar but kept the prior name “Le Fe”—meaning both in Spanish and in French, the Faith.

The evening I had arrived, I had just spent six hours in the sun, covering the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament for you CV Weekly readers—so you know how that goes. The gracious guys properly revived me with a carafe of craft beer, a taste or two of freshly prepared tapas and a swallowing of some Sauv Blanc and Cab Sauv. But my time was tapering, so they invited me back for a relaxed visit and review.

My unexpected trip to Verona and my ensuing calendar has stalled my return. But I look forward to my faithful re-appearance for a complete follow-up—Yum!

The Coachella Winery at the River in Rancho Mirage is on our radar, and I look forward to interviewing the owner, Salvatore, and the manager, Luca, for a fine-tuned tour of gustatory treats—so you stay tuned! Cheers!

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