As a wino, I love wine bars. Love them. You get to try a variety of wines you might not find elsewhere or not be able to buy anywhere else. They usually have interesting cheeses and sliced meats and other small plates for munching on. And in general, you feel like an adult in one, which has become a rare commodity for me ever since my daughter was born two years ago (if we do go out to a restaurant as a family, it's usually before 6 p.m. at a "kid-friendly" place - ie - not too slick or expensive, usually with beat up wooden tables and open enough so if she complains or cries people don't get upset. Yes, I'm looking at you Triple Rock, our go-to fam-friendly restaurant with the amazing beer selection.)
But getting back to the matter at hand - when I've been allowed out of the house after dark for a dad's night out or just a drink with a friend, I've been going to Alameda Wine Co. and loving it.
The place is not for everybody. It certainly has its quirks, the main one being the owner, a willow-thin, bald woman who wears droopy sweat pants that expose a thong as she walks around behind the bar. She also seems to have a nervous breakdown every time I'm there, swearing profusely and loudly about ex-customers who didn't pay or someone who pissed her off. I'd imagine it's kind of scary for people who didn't grow up with parents who screamed a lot. (Check out the one-star reviews on yelp for a taste of the offended customers - here).
Ok, on to the positives. The selection is nice and affordable. You can get a small pour or a large pour and pay accordingly. This is super if you're like me and want to try several selections on the menu without committing to an entire glass. The variety of the selection is nice too. When I've been I've found interesting American, Italian, French, Spanish and Argentinian offerings. There's a 1977 port you can try if you want. Last time the bartender popped open a really great madeira (I think it was a Rare Wine Company Historic Series Madeira Boston Boal NV) to show me how good madeira can be - and boy was she right.
The bar is curvy and the seats are leather with backs. You can sit for hours there twirling around, creating mini-flights of wine from the menu, and pick at plates of charcuterie and artisinal cheese. If you liked something you drank, they also have a retail end of the store with well priced wines that are mostly under $20 and include a lot of small production, well made choices.
If you're ever in Alameda, check this place out.