I used up the last of my Pinto Grigio in my pasta sauce, the weeklong heat wave rendered me perpetually thirsty and my friend Molly called. Having co-parented through 3 schools and now making the transition with our kids to high school, there were clearly lots of issues to pick through. Everything pointed in one direction: toward a little, tiny wine bar called Que Syrah.
This place is so small in fact, that Molly texted me 5 minutes after our planned meeting time saying she was circling the block, because she couldn’t find it. I totally get it, because I’ve been in her shoes. It’s as if the door doesn’t show up unless you are on foot. So just park and hoof it from Ambassador Toys to 14th ave. Trust me, you will be able to locate and walk through those doors much like Harry Potter and the Room of Requirement. If you need it, it will be there for you.
Once inside, this West Portal wine bar is ideal for getting together with the gals, impromptu date nights or even the school auction meeting (Has it not been proven that school involvement increases with the promise of a glass of bubbly?). We’re talking mommy’s little helper and then some. Going on its 10th year, owners Stephanie and Keith McCardell know exactly what to pour to keep the locals coming back.
Specializing in small production wines from around the world, the menu includes boutique California producers, lesser known wines from Spain, France and Italy, and even some unique choices from South Africa, Hungary, Croatia, and even a Georgian wine (the country, not the state). Unable to choose just one? Every week hosts a different flight featuring 3 glasses of something you’ve likely never tasted before. Last night it was a red, white and pink Grenache flight ($13)–traveling from Spain to France to California’s Central Coast– that kicked our conversation into high gear. If you find one that you love (as we did), you can get it by the glass or uncork a whole bottle. With a particularly keen eye for exceptional wines at reasonable prices from around $32-$64 per bottle, there are many killer deals to be had.
Pretentious? Not at all. From the cozy fireplace couch seating to the earnest delivery of every last detail concerning the attributes of any wine you consider ordering, this is clearly a labor of love. Purposely lean on staff, the owners themselves are often the ones filling your glass. The wine list is extensive and their ability to walk you through this sometimes-esoteric subject in layman’s terms is quite appreciated. That said, Que Syrah could stand proud next to any of the dizzying number of wine bars in San Francisco and elevate their rap to satisfy the loftiest, self-proclaimed oenophiles as well.
So, did my girlfriends and I figure out the next steps in ushering our teenagers through the bumps in the road ahead that is freshman year? No. Truth be told, it was the phenomenally smooth Groundwork 2012 Grenache, Central Coast ($11) that got us completely sidetracked. Of course, it’s probably better that way because (oh, you knew this was coming, didn’t you?) whatever will be, will be.
Que Syrah, 230 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 415-731-7000 (call or click for hours of operation as they sometimes change)