On the way to get some won-ton soup tonight, Ruth and I were strolling in Portrero Hill and decided to poke our heads into Ruby Wine, a cute-as-a-button wine shop that's been open for about a year on 18th street.
We chatted for a while with owner, Joel Blaskacek, who lives in the neighborhood and staffs the shop most of the time. He believes in helping people connect with wine, and as a result has no "shelf-talker" tasting notes anywhere in his shop. There are no Robert Parker scores, no gold medal notes, in fact, there are no tags on any of his wines. "We taste every wine before we sell it. If people want to know something about the wine, I'd rather talk with them about it than let them read a label" Joel says.
He and his business partner are all about finding less reknown wines that are high quality across a number of price ranges. Wandering through the store, I saw red table wines from boutique producers for under $15 and I saw some Brunellos and Barolos that were closer to the $100 mark. Ruby carries about 150 wines in total, along with a selection of artisanal cheeses. "You're not going to be overwhelmed walking in here," says Joel. The wine selection had good representation from France and Italy, with sprinklings of Germany/Austria, dabs of Spain, highlights from California, and bits and pieces of other regions (did I see South America in there somewhere?).
In any case, if you find yourself in the neighborhood and are looking for a good shop with nice people who can talk wine to you at any level, I recommend stopping in. They have plans to expand their cheese selection and incorporate other gourmet foodstuffs in this coming year.
1419 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
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