Squid Ink on the “Real Tequila Test”

From the 2009

LA Weekly Best of LA Edition:



A worm-filled bottle is hardly what you would expect to find in an Italian wine shop, but Wine Expo staffer Erik Moreno has a soft spot for tequila. His mother is from Jalisco, the Mexican state where the spirit is produced. Nine years ago, Moreno began systematically cleansing the Santa Monica store’s shelves of Cuervo and Patrón and replacing them with bottles from artisanal producers. Over the years, he has amassed a curiosity shop-worthy collection of more than 70 bottles. Moreno’s tequila procurement mantra is simple: Only 100 percent blue Weber agave tequilas, no mixtos (a blend of agave and grain alcohol), are allowed. Only those blancos, reposados and añejos — the names correspond to the length of time the tequilas are aged — that pass his rigorous taste tests (a hard job) land a permanent spot. And many are priced at or below those from larger tequila producers. Among Moreno’s current favorites are a light, cocktail-worthy $16 blanco from Ranchero Jalisciense and a $31 vanilla-scented añejo from D’Los Altos. For solo quaffing, the clove and caramel-laced Don Cardona reposado is hard to beat. It’s a more robust $67, but no one ever said you had to share. Jen Garbee


Then there’s THIS:

WINE EXPO has been screwing around with semantics ever since it opened nearly twenty years ago. We’ve put together a Dateline-worthy photo documentary, snapped last night, of the wine shop’s current opinions…” Click on the link below:


Big Press Love for our Point of Sale Signage!

“Mondo Italia Gone Gonzo.

Wine Expo. 2933 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA

I was smitten with the Old World SoCal of WineExpo years ago based on its old school newsletters, filled with raucous descriptions, eclectic music references and food popping up just about every other wine. When I finally got there in 2001, it was a genuine thrill. I can’t recall being in one shop whose dual foci—Italian wines and bubbly—were so broad yet so deep. Humble wines, fancy wines, freak wines… wines with names as long as your arm. The inventory at Wine Expo is not so much assembled as curated. How else to explain the presence of 13 {yes, 13} fizzy reds. The man behind the wines, Roberto Rogness, snags many of these bottlings to be Wine Expo exclusives on pilgrimages to VinItaly. Roberto has been Expo’s wine director since it opened 15 years ago; he only loves one thing more than vino: his customers. If you are into bubbly and/or Italian wine, go to the website right now; cruise the write-ups; check out Roberto’s rants. All it takes is a few clicks to realize that Wine Expo is about as close as you’ll find to a vinous version of Alice’s Wonderland.”


W. R. Tish @ The Wine Skewer

“A Miraculous Wine Shop for Italian Wine Lovers!!! WINE EXPO…where have you been all of my life?” David Rosengarten in The Rosengarten Report

“You can buy your Veuve at Cost Plus or your Dom at Gelson’s, but if you have the guts to go beyond the obvious and you are not embarrassed about spending less for better quality…WINE EXPO is THE place for bubbly!” LA Magazine’s Best of LA Edition, August 2007


“Their selection is great as they aren’t going to carry things you can find at every corner store. Also, I can honestly say that I have never been into another store where the staff could not only accurately tell you what each bottle tasted like and what foods the wines best went with, but they actually asked you about your preferences and adjusted accordingly. Wine Expo is truly a model for what a store should strive to be in terms of service and selection.” Brad Baker, The Champagne Warrior


“I eagerly await their weekly communiqués to see what pronouncement, discovery or outrage they want to share and, even when I disagree, I find them intriguing and worth considering. Their sheer delight in sharing their discoveries and philosophies with their readers get my attention even when I am not in the market for their wines.” David Shaw, LA Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning Media Critic, 10/6, 2004 The full article “Their Passion and their Muse” by David Shaw


LA City Beat article on Wines of Summer featuring WINE EXPO


“Robert Rogness is one of the ablest sommeliers I have ever encountered….Take my advice and take his!” Dan Berger in the Los Angeles Times


WINE EXPO featured on CitySipper.com


“WINE EXPO is LA’s true temple of Champagne worship!” 
Chris Rubin, Los Angeles Reader
“WINE EXPO practically specializes in great inexpensive wines and you would be foolish not to take advantage of their specific expertise…leave the Two Buck Chuck to everybody else!” Pulitzer Prize winning food scribe Jonathan Gold


“A Westside Favorite, WINE EXPO is LA’s BEST Wine Store!  Make good use of their maniacally composed, hyper-informative newsletter.” LA New Times
“WINE EXPO in Santa Monica has one of the best selections of Champagne in the country.” New York Times Wine Columnist Eric Asimov in his blog “The Pour”
“Best Service in Los Angeles” Zagat Market Guide


“Most fine wine shops carry a small, well-selected group of grower-producer wines, but a few shops in Southern California are renowned for their depth. That is especially true of Wine Expo in Santa Monica, which has probably the best selection of such wines in California.”

The Los Angeles Times Dec 24, 2008


Check out our favorite Negroamaro in Architectual Digest’s profile of Matthew McConaughey’s Beach Pad!


I have a weakness for dry white wines made from grapes that usually go into dessert wines — think about the alluring dry Muscats of Alsace, for example. So when Robert Rogness, general manager of Wine Expo in Santa Monica, enthused about a dry Malvasia from Oltrepò Pavese, a region in the southern part of Lombardy, I perked up my ears.

Azienda Agricola Martilde’s “Piume” dry Malvasia 2006 smells sweet, with a lush, honeyed bouquet, but drinks utterly dry, with flavors of melon and green apple and a brisk finish that hints of lemon peel. Word of the day: “Piume” is Italian for feathers, and refers to the label’s picture of poultry that live on the farm. This is a wine with the body and taste profile to stand up to challenging flavors, such as the sweet-sour of caponata, the tang of lemony vinaigrettes and marinades, and even the heat of spicy Thai and Chinese dishes.” Jean T. Barrett, Los Angeles Times 9/03/08


“The panel was struck by the general very high quality of the wines – the only one of the lot that impressed no one was a ringer, a non-vintage Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut (not listed below because it’s not a grower Champagne). “Not as distinctive” was the way one taster described it. “Fizzy, in a cheap kind of way,” said another. The others had character galore, and were generally so likable that it was difficult to rank them. Prices are very reasonable for the quality. Grower-produced Champagnes are easy to spot but hard to find. Any Champagne whose name you don’t recognize is probably from a grower. Wine Expo in Santa Monica, (310) 828-4428, has by far the best selection in the area.


Patrick Comiskey in the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, December 28, 2005