In the movie Sideways, Paul Giamatti taught wine lovers two things: never merlot and always pinot noir. The rules seemed to have caught on, as pinot noir’s popularity jumped after the 2004 comedy’s successful box-office run, and wine bars obliged.
Newly opened Vyne Bistro, located along Paseo de San Antonio, has seven pinot noirs available by the glass—perhaps a nod to both the red’s Sideways-induced popularity and the smooth, versatile flavor of the variety. The new wine bar, previously a Beard Papa’s, sits next to iMiNUSD and Philz Coffee. It had been under construction for what seemed a long time, but the wait is over, and Vyne Bistro is an appealing addition to downtown San Jose for wine enthusiasts.
Perhaps in tandem with the style of its youthful neighbors, a very modern, minimalist interior greets patrons with a glossy white bar, as well as black and chrome furniture accented by touches of red in the walls. The clublike interior may project a bit too much L.A. flare for a wine bar, but the conservatively priced menu and knowledgeable staff provide a comfortable balance.
Vyne carries more than 40 wines by the glass and half-glass. The prices ($4-$8 for a half-glass, $7-$18 for full glass) are fairly reasonable given the quality and selection. Vyne’s offerings of reds range from rich pinots from France and Santa Lucia Highlands and a medium-bodied Bordeaux from the Haut M-doc appellation to a dark Australian shiraz. For whites, some of the standouts are an organic chardonnay by N’Oak in Napa and a French Sauvignon Blanc from the Sancerre appellation, which is known for its sweet whites and lightly effervescent, sweet gewŸrztraminers. The best way to enjoy Vyne is with a flight of two or four different half-glasses, keeping in mind some categorical rules of selection, even if it is just whichever best pairs with your cheese plate.
In addition to entrees such as an appetizing porcini risotto, gourmet salads and paninis, Vyne assembles cheese and charcuterie platters. The cheeses include a smooth and nutty but infamously fragrant ƒpoisses, a hard, salty Idiaz‡bal, an earthy boschetto al tartufo and the creamy, tangy Humboldt Fog. A selection of three cheeses runs $11 and arrives beautifully arranged with apple slices, honey and nut spread, water wafers and mixed crackers, a strongly fragrant boutique olive oil and fresh grapes—all comfortably sharable among two couples.
101 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose; 408.375.2618