Sips and Snacks in O.C.’s Epicenter of Cool

The Wine Lab at Costa Mesa’s The Camp sure makes science seem fun

From the periodic table of elements on the wall, to the beakers used as decanters, to the tasting flights poured into test tubes, there’s an unmistakable suggestion to experiment with wine at Wine Lab@The Camp. Wine Lab has a wide selection of wine choices and an incredibly knowledgeable staff, five members of which are certified sommeliers. You can get geeky and talk esoteric varietals and corner-of-the-world growing regions with casual and down-to-earth experts. Or you can happily swirl solo, soaking in the crowds strolling around this scene which seems more Portland than Orange County.

Tasting Flights Open your palate with three themed flights of three wines. The features during my most recent stop were “Whites Around the World,” “Washington Reds,” and “Eclective Italians.”

Wines by the Glass Choose from more than 70 pours ranging from $8 Italian Moscato, $30 Muga, to a $150 half pour of Grand Cru Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion.

Happy Hour Settle in from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 4 to 6 p.m. Monday. During Happy Hour, get $2 off glasses priced at more than $5, and $8 for a Somm’s Choice flight of three 2-ounce pours.

Belly Up Several of the wines by the glass are poured via keg. The wines come direct from the winery allowing for extended freshness and greater sampling. So, you can belly up to the bar with your buddies while they pull the handle for your wine or the slew of available craft beers.

A Chef, Too! Everyone knows that both food and wine are yummier when paired. Wine Lab’s most popular choices are the Chef’s Grilled Cheese (we’re talking Costwold Double Gloucester and Hooks 4-year-old Cheddar with Apple Onion Jam), the curated cheeses plates, and the array of chocolates.

My chat with two Wine Lab staffers during my recent Friday visit left me impressed by their passion for wine and their own efforts to continue learning. My favorite tale is of their staff “Weekend Blinds” where bottles are wrapped and tastings are held to pinpoint the varietal and other minute details. The goal is to grow a razor sharp palate—and stump one other. All of which calls to mind a quote I once read from astronomer Edwin Hubble: “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.”

Wine Lab@The Camp
2937 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa

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