Bellavino Wine Bar
In a neighborhood thick with chain restaurants, this wine bar and jazz venue stands out. Some 50 wines are offered by the glass, and if you taste something you really like, you can pick up a bottle or two at the neighboring retail store. The eclectic food menu has lots of appealing choices, but the cheese plates are the most popular.
* Wine by the glass, $8 to $20. 3709 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Westlake Village; (805) 557-0202.
The latest addition to this Pasadena classic is a new sophisticated (yet comfortable) wine and martini lounge. Need help matching wine with food? The compact but irresistible menu, featuring goodies such as Muscovy duck rillette and lobster tempura, suggests pairings.
* Wine by the glass, $7.50 to $22. 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena; (626) 568-3900.
Most people know this Promenade fixture as a fine place to meet for lunch or late night. But there's also an attractive little wine bar that opens every day at 5 p.m. Seven reds and six whites are usually on offer. Can't decide what to try? Order the red or white tasting: 1-ounce pours of each wine. Cheeseheads can design their own plate, choosing from the deli's varied selection.
* Tastings usually $12 to $20. 1457 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; (310) 451-0616.
The wine program at this 5-year-old eatery, formerly known as Copacabana, recently got an overhaul by wine consultant Jeff Morgenthal, whom some might remember from his stint as sommelier at Beverly Hills' Enoteca Drago. Now there are some dozen wines by the glass, mostly from Spain, Chile and Argentina. To eat? A menu of Latin-inspired savories such as lobster empanadas.
* Wine by the glass, $3.50 to $19. 1600 Fairplex Drive, Pomona; (909) 469-1965.
XO Wine Bistro
This stylish South Bay bistro serves up a menu of world tapas -- everything from pork satay to wild mushroom ravioli -- as well as "date plates" (designed to be shared) and more than 40 wines by the glass. The list is divided into user-friendly categories like Crisp Whites and Fruit Forward Reds. * Wines by the glass, $7 to $14. 1209 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach; (310) 545-3509.
-- Leslee Komaiko