O Sea Crafts an Eclectic Wine List

The new spot in Orange lures you in with sustainable seafood and intriguing sips.

I can’t recall the last time I saw a restaurant owner dashing around with two bottles of wine in one hand, glasses in the other, chatting with guests, and pouring wines with a smile. But O Sea in Old Towne Orange isn’t the usual restaurant. For one, it’s fine-casual, with a sustainable seafood-centric menu that dabbles in pan-global dishes that are just as fresh and delicious as the concept. Secondly, the wine list is something special.

I borrowed O Sea owner Mike Flynn tableside for a few minutes to chat about all things wine.

Before I order, what are some of your favorite pairings for summer?

Definitely get the peach salad with our orange wine. It’s a white wine made in the style of red wine, but they press the juice on skins and add the skins back, giving it a rosé-like color. It starts really peachy up front, which works well with the salad. Wine: Orange You Different: Moschofilero Hoof & Lur, Troupis, Mantinia, Greece

Kimchi’d Brussels with Halibut, six-minute egg. Photo Greg Nagel
The wine list is simplified with titles such as Pool Wine, Fruit Roll-Up Zin, and Old Faithful. Do you find more wine-curious people dabbling because of it?

So take this table right here (points nearby): They’re drinking carbonic Sangiovese and a Rofosco from Northern Italy and just ordered a second bottle. Nobody’s ever heard of these wines, but when you describe them more playfully, it takes the pretentiousness and intimidation out of the equation. People are willing to try new things! Wines: Best Served Chilled – Carbonic Sangiovese, Love You Bunches, Stolpman, Santa Barbara and Syrah Meets P Noir Refosco, Volpe Pasini, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Ital.

Burrata Cheese with Smoky Salsa Macha. Photo Greg Nagel
When you picked these wines for your list, how did you make them work so well with chef David Yamaguchi’s dishes? 

For the most part, we like lighter, more acidic wines that go well with our food. We have to have a chardonnay, but ours is definitely a lighter one that’s only spent a little bit of time on oak. Our Old Faithful is a Meritage, which is 70 percent merlot—definitely a softer take on a red blend. These are wines I like to drink at my house, and I’m excited to get people to try them. Wines: Golden Delicious Chardonnay, Enkidu, Sonoma; Old Faithful Meritage Blend Mountain Cuvee, Gundlach Bundschu, Sonoma Valley

Daily ceviche of the day with coconut milk, Golden Delicious Chardonnay. Photo Greg Nagel

Something I’ve never seen before on a list is a winery from Los Angeles. How did that come about?

I think it’s the coolest wine on the list and one of the last we added. One of my vendors pulled this out in a blind tasting (the bottle is kinda eye-catching), and I put my nose in the glass and was like, “What is that? Tell me the story of that wine!” It’s 100 percent zinfandel, and it doesn’t drink like any zin I’ve ever had. This isn’t super jammy, it’s not 19 percent alcohol, it’s super light, fruity, just like a fruit rollup. It’s made in Palmdale near the Mojave Desert by the nicest two people ever trying to restore historic vineyards in L.A. County. Wine: Fruit Roll Up Zin: Zinfandel, Swayze Vineyard, Angeleno Wine Co, Los Angeles

O Sea is located at 109 S Glassell St, Orange // eatosea.com

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