Santa Feans love Canyon Road: the uneven sidewalks, the occasional peek into someone's private residence and the plethora of art galleries interspersed with fashionable boutiques and trendy restaurants. Friday nights are particularly enjoyable as the galleries have their openings and introduce new artists with the usual fanfare. Long time Santa Feans will fondly remember when a complimentary ***image1***glass of wine was served at most openings. Alas, those days are gone, but the good news is that most of the restaurants on Canyon Road offer wine by the glass, so you can still indulge this slightly guilty pleasure. Here's our guide to wines by the glass on Canyon Road.
Our first stop was Café des Artistes (223-B Canyon Road). This very small but accommodating lunch stop has only three small tables inside, so you may want to sip your wine outside, especially if you have claustrophobic tendencies. On the patio you'll find eight tables closely positioned to one another affording the opportunity to listen in on your neighbor's conversation. This is not the place for an intimate meeting but is perfect if you just want a midday glass of wine and a nosh. The wines by the glass selection is minimal and exclusively French except for Gruet Blanc de Noir, a New Mexican sparkler and Austria's Salomon Gruner Veltliner. Our Chateau St. Martin de la Garrigue Rosé at $7 a glass was a perfect start to our Canyon Road climb.
Celebrations Restaurant and Wine Bar (613 Canyon Road) is a lovely maze of small rooms imparting an intimate feel. The outdoor seating gives winers and diners a chance to take in the sights and sounds of Canyon Road while giving them the privacy that most people want while enjoying lunch, dinner or just a leisurely drink. Our glass of '04 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc, accompanied by Buckwheat Zydeco on the stereo, couldn't have been better. This nice-sized four ounce pour was perfectly chilled and the glasses were thin-lipped so that you could actually taste the wine and not the glass. Their wines by the glass, reasonably priced from $7-$10, include an extensive selection from California, Italy, Argentina, Australia and Spain. As we sat at the bar, one thing stood out: Whoever poured a glass of wine carefully scrutinized the glass before pouring, making sure that every glass was impeccably clean. This definitely made a positive impression as it is much more appetizing to be served in a sparklingly clean glass than one with water spots, or worse, someone else's lipstick.
The wines at Geronimo (724 Canyon Road) were the priciest we found on our foray, starting at $11 for the Ferrari Carano '05 Fume Blanc and climbing to $17 for the ZD '04 California Chardonnay. Over the course of our wine drinking lives, we've tried several of their wine menu offerings and can honestly say they are all hand-picked with great care and thought. Although most are from California, none of them will disappoint the wine aficionado. It should be noted that, in addition to wine by the glass, Geronimo has an unusually large and equally well chosen half bottle selection. If it's been a while since you wore something nicer than jeans and enjoyed a before dinner drink, comfortably ensconced in Geronimo's intimate and cozy bar, take time this summer to pamper yourself.
Next is the Sol Café (802 Canyon Road). This very welcoming spot to stop for wine and food is among our favorites. Although the wines by the glass menu is limited to a handful of whites and reds, what is available is modestly priced and there is enough variety that everyone will find something suited to his or her taste. Whether you choose a glass of Echelon Shiraz from California or Echeverria Chardonnay from Chile, the wine is guaranteed to go down very smoothly as you sit outside and watch the world go by. Other choices for wine by the glass include offerings from New Mexico, California and New Zealand. Knowing that we are wine lovers, the general manager insisted we try their Agave wine margarita. This is one of the most delicious and refreshing drinks we have come across and perfect on a hot Santa Fe afternoon. Inside or out, Sol Café is a cozy, relaxing spot, perfect for sipping a glass of wine while relating the days events to your drinking companion.
If you're looking for a true bar atmosphere, El Farol (808 Canyon Road) is the place to be. Its dark, cool interior is a refreshing place to re-energize yourself on a hot, summer day. The wines by the glass, which range in price from $7-$10, are either from Spain, Argentina, Portugal, Chile or New Mexico, with one exception being an Oregon Pinot Noir. These wines are all wonderful complements to the renowned tapas. We chose, on the recommendation of the bartender, a nicely chilled glass of Casal Garcia, a Portuguese Tinto Verde. This $7 quaff had a light, slightly effervescent taste just, right for a mid-afternoon stop.