Paradise Pantry
677 E Main St .

Pull up to a bar with a book and suddenly you’re a “weirdo.” Tell that to James Joyce! Those were simpler times. The bars of today are social activities, meant for two or more. When you find a little hamlet, appreciate it. Such is Paradise Pantry: small room, homey atmosphere.

Tina Thayer, co-owner with Kelly Briglio, poured a five wine flight, beginning with a white blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, the 2011 Chateau L’Afrique Rose from the Cotes de Provence, France. She remarked on the wine’s notable “taste of Provence” characteristics, bright and citrusy with a hint of floral overtones.

Red, the jack of all trades barman/chef/cheese monger, took over midway through the flight and poured the 2008 Sinor La Vallee “Luna Matta Vineyard” Syrah out of Paso Robles. Thayer and I spoke briefly on the wine’s complexity — a hint of jam but more thorough than that, with a blackberry finish — until he went to collect a customer’s Wine of the Month haul.

Sitting at the small bar alone in the dimly lit cafe is a unique experience. It should feel cramped, but it isn’t; it shouldn’t feel private, but it does. Though the flight changes weekly, typically the wine is always good, with a varied selection from California and the world over, but it’s the staff that makes you feel welcome.

Paradise Pantry also offers a nice selection of Belgian and local brews, including Oroboros, Island and Surf, just in case wine isn’t part of the plan.

The final tasting was a red blend from Sonoma, the 2007 B Wise “Trios” — the brightest and best of the five, though my experience somewhat dampened by the news that Paradise Pantry would be moving soon to a larger location at 222 E. Main Street. Can it retain the sought after vibe? Time will tell. Until then, it’s the perfect locale for the bookish type.

5 O’Clock Somewhere is a new column and will run every other week for the latest in tempting intoxication around Ventura County.