CELEBRATED BY L.A. WEEKLY AS THE CITY’S
‘BEST URBAN WINE TASTING ROOM,’ 3TWENTY WINE LOUNGE
PERSONALIZES AND DEMYSTIFIES THE EXPERIENCE VIA
HANDS ON CUSTOMER SERVICE, A MIX OF POPULAR
AND BOUTIQUE WINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
AND SAMPLINGS FROM ENOMATIC WINE TASTING MACHINES
* * *
Since opening the wine tasting restaurant in mid-2011,
Owner and GM Edgar Poureshagh—a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers—has made an extended family out of thousands of patrons,
educating and sharing his passion while receiving coverage
on Bravo, VH1, Style Network, Yahoo!, Mevio and Examiner.com
Since turning his lifelong passion for wine and insatiable quest to share it with the world into the supremely hip 3Twenty Wine Lounge (www.320southwine.com) in June 2011, Edgar Poureshagh has become as popular an attraction at his Mid-City Los Angeles hotspot as the ever-evolving blend of popular and rare, small production wines he offers—and the two large circular Enomatic systems from Italy that let everyone sample 1.75 ounce tastings (50 ml) before committing to a glass or bottle.
The sheer force of the Certified Sommelier’s infectious personality and vast wine knowledge, combined with 3Twenty’s growing reputation as the city’s premiere wine tasting restaurant, has brought some major pop culture cache via appearances on Bravo’s “Flipping Out,” VH1’s “Basketball Wives” and The Style Network’s “Tia & Tamera,” and web video spots on both Yahoo! and Mevio’s “Corkscrew Interviews.”
In naming 3Twenty Wine Lounge as the “Best Urban Wine Tasting Room,” tastemaking publication L.A. Weekly calls Edgar’s ambient rich haven on S. La Brea “the perfect place to go when the craving hits and the gas tank is almost empty.” And amidst a sea of rave reviews by the most important critics of all—the satisfied, eager to return patrons–the ever-popular consumer ratings website Yelp! named it the city’s Best Wine Bar/Small Plates venue and OpenTable diners granted the restaurant the Diner’s Choice Award for “Most Notable Wine List.”
Edgar, who brings to his entrepreneurial venture years of experience working for wine distributors and as a personal sommelier and consultant for small high-end restaurants and individual clients, is also an occasional guest wine and food columnist for the Park La Brea News/Beverly Press. He would no doubt contribute more often if he wasn’t occupied 100 hours a week running and building the business and working on his Doctorate at Pepperdine University in Organizational Leadership.
Many of the glowing write-ups and customer interest are being stoked by the exciting amount of wine and food offerings, along with some key foundational stats. 3Twenty Wine Lounge has from 250-300 wines at any given time, with 40 of them available in the Enomatic machines (16 in each circular machine, eight in the refrigerated wall machine). At any given time, they pour from another 12 bottles behind the bar—usually sparkling and dessert wines—for a total of 52 wines available by the glass at any given time. They also carry a large selection of craft and imported fine beers. The wine program is designed this way to ensure a continual shift in the varietals that are available to sample from the machines—which in turn allows returning patrons to try new and exciting wines each visit. On top of that, the lounge showcases a variety of contemporary paintings by local artists.
What has been less emphasized to this point—but which is a driving force behind everything from 3Twenty Lounge’s hands on customer service to its wine selection—is the fact that it is family owned and run business. Edgar and his wife Beneta came up with the concept—and his father Ninous came on board as a partner in the project. Edgar’s mother and sister play smaller roles in the business. On the two days Edgar takes off for his studies and family time, Ninous supervises the operations. Ninous, who taught his son the art of building a successful business by running his own accounting firm for years, handles the financial aspects of the lounge.
“We developed the business more on what we didn’t want it to be than what we wanted it to be,” says Edgar. “We didn’t want to open a traditional cheesy wine bar, where the owners buy bottles for six or seven dollars and resell them to consumers for 35 dollars a bottle. It bothered me that people spent so much money and didn’t get proper value. I also realized that the reason people go to wine bars as opposed to regular bars is to learn more about wines—and one of my goals is to personally educate them, to demystify the process of choosing and experiencing wines. That’s one of the things I never got to do when I worked for distributors and as a consultant. When we brought in the Enomatic machines and refrigerated wall unit, which keep wines for an extended period without spoiling, they inspired our founding mission to personalize wine pairing and offer premium wines while serving regionally sourced foods in an environmentally conscious way.
“The machines allow us to pour rare and exotic and hard to find wines,” he adds, “the kind you read about in popular wine magazines, and give our customers the opportunity to try them without spending money on a whole bottle. We give out open tab cards and then at the end of your ‘excursion,’ take the card back and charge the total. Because we’re a family owned establishment, it made sense to feature primarily wines from family owned wineries. That’s what guides my purchasing process. When I was a consultant, I specialized in rare boutique wines, and those relationships here. But I also deal with larger, more renowned family owned wineries, such as the Napa Valley-based Cakebread, Dominus and Shafer wineries.”
Another of Edgar’s trademarks is his attention to “typicity”—identifying the most optimum wines produced in a certain region and year under the conditions that defined that time. “I’ve worked to become adept at choosing examples of what wines should taste like based on where they come from…for instance, what was the best thing that came out of a specific village in Burgundy in 2008, a really cold year. I’m specific about this, as I am specific when I ask new patrons questions about their food preferences to determine their wine palates, simply because I want to give them interesting experiences each time they come here.”
Another hugely important feature of the 3Twenty Wine Lounge is the food selection; most of the selections fall between “tapas” and “entrée” in portion, much like a Spanish “racion.” With the culinary expertise of Chef Nicole Ball—whose resume includes positions at celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain in NYC and L.A.’s Sunset Towers—the lounge features an assortment of cheeses and charcuterie, composed salads and small plates made for sharing. Featured items include fresh burrata with olive tapenade and garlic confit; baby beets with Roquefort and candied pecans; tiger prawns wrapped in bacon with paprika oil; steamed mussels with garlic and ale; seared scallops in jade sauce; braised lamb and goat cheese poutine; as well as nightly specials.
“It was my dad’s idea to bring in the food and hire a group of chefs, including Chef Ball, to design the perfect menu,” says Edgar. “My background in pairing food with wine as a consultant lends itself perfectly to this concept, and I love going over the pairing possibilities with patrons—whether they’re asking me or not! That’s one of the ways we differentiate ourselves from the typical wine bars in town. None are selecting wines the way we are and none of them give you the truth wine pairing experience. That’s why we call ourselves a wine tasting restaurant. We’re also more reasonably priced if you compare a wine apples to apples, in between the retail value of a bottle and the typical restaurant price. A bottle you would buy for $20 and a restaurant would sell for double that, we sell for $30.”
The ambience at 3Twenty Wine Lounge is on the dark side and intimate, perfect for everyone from married couples and groups of friends to couples on their first dates, breaking the ice over the Enomatic machines. Edgar and his family have also made a commitment to support the Los Angeles cultural community by featuring a different local artists’ work on the walls of 3Twenty Wine Lounge every month, sponsoring the Miracle Mile Art Walk and events at The Geffen Playhouse and other art-related non-profit organizations.
“Since we opened,” he says, “I’ve never been more stressed out in my entire life – nor have I ever been happier. I love being the master of my own destiny and love the fact that people come here to enjoy my business, be in my company and spend their hard earned money on wine that I have personally selected. I also enjoy having the opportunity to teach people about wine and share my passions with them. We actively dissuade pretense here, and we’re always checking up on them to make sure they’re having a great time. They know it’s because we really care.”