How many of you have gone on wine-tasting or pairing adventures? It can be fun to order food and try to decide what goes with what you’re eating. It’s like a Match Game. And with all of the new spots that have opened up across Los Angeles, it’s not difficult to find a place that will help you increase your wine terminology and have lots of fun doing it. There’s a place right by Staples Center that offers wine tasting along with great food pairings called Corkbar. The eclectic list features varietals grown in California and seasonal ingredients from farmers’ market. Featuring more than 30 wines by the glass, finding one that’s “just right” for your tastes can be daunting. But if you narrow down what notes you’re looking for, like a smoky, crisp, dry or sweet finish on your palate, then you’re off to a great start.

If it’s a sunny day like it was when I visited, opt to grab a seat out on the patio. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing better than having a glass in hand and people watching. Corkbar’s location is prime real estate on the corner of 12th and Grand, a few blocks from L.A. Live. It’s away from the loudness that L.A. Live brings, but not too far off that you miss the action.  

Corkbar has a very minimalist design, the interior consisting of large shelves of bottles of wine (of course). The patio is more conducive to bigger parties, with simple stainless steel tables and chairs to house you and your friends.

I think Corkbar is at it’s best during Happy Hour, not only because of the daily selection of Taco Trio, but also you can sample some of the best wines for about $8. Santa Barbara’s Hitching Post is one of my favorite wines, and Corkbar offers the “Generation Red” blend that has blueberry undertones. Pair that with the slightly spicy Pork Bruschetta and you’ve got a tangy, sweet and slightly salty experience. The bruschetta, kind of like a mock pulled-pork sandwich, is topped with a citrus tinged coleslaw that is not too powerful in flavors, but adds great texture to the shredded pork.

Corkbar has a hidden feature in that they also offer artisan beers on tap. Infuse another layer of flavor with a dry finish to the bruschetta with an on-tap, medium-bodied pale ale of Alesmith Brewing Company.

Corkbar is known for its Gougères – an airy puffball of pastry dough that is filled with creamy cheddar cheese. Wine pairing for this delicious snack comes easy, like a medium-bodied Pinot Noir to cut the richness of the cheese. Ask your server which one has a dominant sour cherry body and you’ve got yet another successful pairing.

My only issue: I really couldn’t find a proper beer pairing! That had more to do with my lack of knowledge on beers, but that’s what makes food and beverage pairings fun. Next time, I think I’ll try one of the 12-ounce bottles as Corkbar serves the caramel-undertoned Jamaican Red Ale from Humboldt County.

What I didn’t have a problem with was choosing which wine to enjoy my dessert with because they had a Chocolate Cake and a Chocolate Board to die for. The board features the self proclaimed “Truffle Fudge” from John Kelly. Another local vendor by way of Hollywood, Kelly’s chocolates are served alongside seasonal fresh and dried fruits. I immediately knew that the Lang & Reed varietals from Napa Valley were the perfect choice to complement the chocolates. That particular Cabernet Franc has a floral tone to it, and that paired with the fruits, is very satisfying to my stomach and palate.  

Corkbar certainly has a lot to choose from, and definitely requires at least two to three visits to get the full scope of what they have to offer. Be prepared to visit Corkbar with an empty stomach!

For more information, call (213) 746-0050 or visit