In February, Nectar Wine Lounge celebrated its 10th anniversary. No easy feat; most restaurants and bars do not even make it to one year. Now firmly entrenched in the Marina, Nectar is one of best places to go in San Francisco for a glass of wine and friendly cheer. Wine can be intimidating but Chris Potter, the owner, sets a tone that is inviting and approachable. In a wine bar, that is almost as important as the wine itself.

With 35 wines available by the glass, Nectar has a balanced, playful list.

The bubbly ranges from the uber dry Delamotte Brut (/$22gl) to The Bleasdale Vineyards ‘Uncle Dick: The Red Brute’ Sparkling wine ($11gl), a red sparkling wine with immense character described as “a frozen boysenberry jam bomb explodes with a fizzy ‘whoosh’ of eucalyptus leaves, a chilled shot of anisette & a hard shwack of leather that says uncle dick means business!”

If you want California Chardonnay, the 2010 Skylark ‘Alondra’ is a breath of fresh air with its vibrant fruit but if you prefer Chardonnay with more minerality, order the 2011 Domaine de la Meuliere Chablis ($13). However, you can be adventurous and try the 2011 Celler Pinol “Ludovicus,” a white Grenache from Priorat or the 2012 Domaine Julue Benau Picpoul de Pinot ($11). On the red side, the one that catches my eye is the 2011 Bodegaa Luna Beberide Mencia ($11) from Bierzo in Galicia. But, don’t let that stop you from checking out the rest of the wines by the glass that include a host of Rhône varietals and other popular red grapes. All of the wines by the glass are available in a 3-ounce taste pour as well.

There is no need to limit yourself to one wine, even if you wish to keep your intake down as four flights are offered: Anything But Chard ($17), Pinot Envy ($19), Bad Ass Red ($16) and Bubbles ($19). Each flight has three 3-ounce tastes.

Four hundred selections are available by the bottle including some older wines such as the 1999 La Palazzola ($82), an Umbrian Merlot and the 2002 D’Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon ($159). The international selection is well versed in everything from German wines to New Zealand.

In addition to cheese and salumi, Nectar has small plates including flatbreads, salads and the most hedonistic of all dishes ($9-$16), Truffled Mac’n’Cheese.  While it is easy to overlook the food given the enormity of wines, both in sheer numbers and choice, the dishes are satisfying and are tailored made to go with wine.

The drawback to Nectar is that with its plush seating and warm lighting, getting yourself out the door can be a problem, especially since chances are you will have been well taken care of during your stay. The space is at its best when the lights go down but Nectar’s happy hour (Mon – Fri, 5 – 7) is worth a trip since a number of wines and menu items are 30% off.

Located off of Chestnut Street, this is one of the most foot trafficked parts of San Francisco and the neighborhood vibe is definitely festive. While Nectar’s atmosphere is jovial, it is a little bit serene than its neighboring bars and restaurants, enforcing the unpretentious vibe. Truly an enjoyable place to explore wine, it is no wonder that Nectar is now a decade old. 

Nectar Wine Lounge
3330 Steiner St.
(415) 345-1377
www.nectarwinelounge.com

Photo by Nectar Wine Lounge.