Comfy spot's sure to make new oenophiles
by: L.E. BASKOW, In a cozy space lined with lots of bottles, Amanda Prock runs the bar at Lupa, where wine education comes easy.

For burgeoning wine connoisseurs who may have cut their taste buds on, say, boxes of Franzia and jugs of Ernest and Julio Gallo, the evolution to sophisticated oenophile can be frightening. The terminology, the correct pairings, which regions are hot - it can all be overwhelming.

Even the tall wall of wine at Lupa can seem intimidating, says owner Amanda Prock.

Prock opened the narrow but warmly lit spot in April to counter some of the fear and provide a comfortable entrance into the world of wines.

Prock serves her pours bistro-style in simple table glasses, writes her own (fun) descriptions of the wines for the menu, and stocks the first columns of that great wine wall - the shelves nearest Lupa's entrance - with bottles priced around $15.

'I hate it when people have to get on their knees to hunt for the inexpensive bottles,' Prock says. 'And these are inexpensive and great-tasting wines.'

Ten whites, 10 reds, a half-dozen dessert selections and three sparkling choices are served in two-and-a-half-ounce tasters, five-ounce glasses, or half and full carafes.

Prock's prose is about as delicious as her pours. Fruity Texier Côtes du Rhône is deemed 'bright and sassy' (a spot-on description), while the notes for a bubbly glass of Gelida Cava call it (rightly) 'dry and beautiful with explosive materials.' And when was the last time you saw a red dubbed a 'down and dirty dry'?

Plates of artisan cheeses and meats come accented with tasty fried almonds, peppers and truffle oil, and served with hunks of fresh bread from Pearl Bakery.

Prock often can be seen behind the counter, frosting a batch of homemade cupcakes, which round out the nibbles menu.

It's wine connoisseurship with all the comforts of home.

- Lee Williams

3955 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-287-5872, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday; happy hour 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and all day Sunday, with $1 off wine pours

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