Stay Connected
What We're Drinking



The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

Recent Videos

Tasting with Oliver Krug

Upcoming Events

We host regular weekly and Saturday wine tastings in each K&L location.

For the complete calendar, including lineups and additional details related to our events, visit our K&L Local Events on or follow us on Facebook.  


Visit our events page on Facebook or the K&L Spirits Journal for more information.

>>Upcoming Special Events, Dinners, and Tastings

See all K&L Local Events


Entries in Wine (52)


A Drinking Tour of Spain with K&L's Joe Manekin & Gary Westby

On August 29th, the Vuelta España (the Spanish equivalent of the Tour de France) begins its three week journey in the oddest of places: Holland. After briefly passing through Germany and enjoying a stage finish in Belgium, the race enters its home country for its final two weeks, passing through many wine regions and providing us with plenty of excuses to drink the local wines. While the racers will have to cover 2,040 miles, including five mountain-top finishes and three individual time trials, we thought we would just drink seven bottles. Are you fit enough to join us?

Since neither of us are particularly fast starters, we have decided to wait until Stage 4 on September 1st to begin the festivities. This stage spans three countries and is the longest of the whole race at 224 km. The finish is Liege, and the course through the Ardennes promises to be similar to a spring classic. We will be drinking the local beer, La Chouffe Belgian Ale (750ml $9.99) and eating moules frites with mayo while taking in the action on the short, sharp climbs.

We start the Spanish wine drinking in earnest for Stage 5 on September 3rd when the riders hit the first mountains of the race. We’ll have the 2007 Viñedos de Ithaca “Akyles” Priorat ($21.99) from vineyards just outside the idyllic, highly perched town of Gratallops, one of the centers of production for Priorat. A blend of Garnacha Negra, Garnacha Peluda (translated as “hairy garnacha”—don't worry this unusual grape variety is actually quite delicious) and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine boasts incredible balance at nearly 15% alcohol (only Joseph Swan Zinfandel comes to mind as a wine that is so simultaneously fruit forward, rich and finessed at once).

The riders tackle the Valencia Formula 1 circuit with a 30k individual time trial for Stage 7 on September 5th. While each rider suffers alone against the clock, we’ll drink a bottle of the 2005 Celler la Muntanya Almoroig (Was $29.99; Now $14.99), which shares a similarly fruity yet balanced flavor profile with the aforementioned Priorat, perhaps with a bit more oak influence. Supple, fruit forward, and a lot of wine for las pesetas—ay perdona—los euros.

On Stage 10, September 8th, the riders will hit the Cresta del Gallo climb and many of the main contenders are tipped to show their cards on this famous ascent. We’ll be rooting for an old school rider to win (maybe Valverde?) while we enjoy the old school charm of the 2003 Primitivo Quiles “Raspay” Tinto Alicante, Spain ($22.99) from the oldest producer of wine in the Alicante region. This winery dates back to the late 18th century! If you enjoy old school Rioja, you will surely enjoy this slightly richer, more oxidative, but wonderfully original, take on classic Spanish winemaking. Braised lamb or short ribs, as well as aged cheeses, would be a perfect match for this incomparable staff favorite.

Another three passes are on the menu for the riders on the 191km Stage 11 on September 9th, including the Collado Bermejo, which has never been scaled in the race before. They will also tackle the 3,600 foot Moratalla climb with only 18km to go, setting up an exciting descent to the finish. We’ll have the 2007 Bodegas Olivares Altos de la Hoya, Jumilla ($10.99), a wine from the cooler Jumilla sub-zone of Las Hoyas de Santa Ana, a distinction that shows in the marked minerality and red fruited character of this Monastrell from old, ungrafted vines.

The Vuelta eases up for Stage 15 on September 14th, with only a couple of smaller climbs early in the 170km stage. This will likely be a bunch finish, but we will hope for a breakaway. While the riders battle out the stage we will contemplate the complexities of the 1979 Albala Don PX Gran Reserva (375ml $29.99), a gloriously sweet wine made from Pedro Ximenez grapes that have been dried on mats and aged in earthen amphorae for all of these years. This very rich wine is a great match for a big plate of Spanish cheese. The adventurous should try a full throttle spicy and sweet wine versus a spicy and rich cheese pairing by buying a chunk of Valdeón or Cabrales, both top-notch Spanish blue cheeses.

 For the final mountain contest of the Vuelta, Stage 19 on September 18th, the race covers four brutal mountain passes over 174 grueling kilometers. This will be the last chance for the pure climbers to press an advantage over the better time trialists in the race. Watching a stage this hard makes us a bit parched, so we’ll be refreshing ourselves with the 2008 Vidal Soblechero “Viña Clavidor” Verdejo, Rueda, Spain ($12.99), a wine that manages to quench your thirst as well as impress your palate with its focused white peach, melon and mineral flavors from 50- to 80-year-old vines outside the tiny winemaking town of La Seca.

Joe Manekin & Gary Westby



I'm Going to Make You Like Grappa


In 1999, I decided that I was going to enjoy drinking Scotch whisky. I was entranced by the salty characters I watched every week during my film noir course and, as with many other college-aged, semi-adolescent boys, I was on a Charles Bukowski kick. The men in these stories were hard-boiled and decisive. They smoked a pack of cigarettes a day (something I also imitated, unfortunately) and lived life by their own rules. I definitely wanted in. The first bottle of Scotch was purchased for me by a friend at the local supermarket. It was called Blandy’s and it cost around $10. I filled two glasses with ice cubes and together we poured ourselves a few fingers. He drained his in a matter of minutes, while I struggled severely. This was harder than I had expected.

Certain preferences in life are the result of repetition and pure perseverance. Nobody truly enjoyed their first cigarette, they had to make themselves like it (in fact, that’s a piece of information used to help many smokers kick the habit). Other culinary delicacies, such as foie gras, escargot or even sushi, are not appreciated by the younger, inexperienced palate, but are savored by the more seasoned aficionado. I believe that with practice and increased exposure to the proper influences you can grow to like things.

Every serious meal I’ve ever had in Italy ended with a small glass of grappa and, because of the fond memories these events left me with, I associate grappa with happiness. But it wasn’t always so pleasant. The first glass of grappa I ever drank went down like fire and left my mouth tasting of gasoline and rubbing alcohol. My parents were hosting their German friends Lilo and Dieter for dinner and they had brought it along with them. “It helps with digestion,” they explained to me. It had better have some medicinal purpose, I thought, because it tastes like crap. More than any other distilled spirit, bad grappa can truly live up to its reputation as “firewater.” Even though it burned my throat and made my eyes water, I noticed how everyone else was truly enjoying their small glass around the dinner table. Years later, while traveling through Italy on my own, I was an older and more established drinker looking to experience everything the country could offer. Every trattoria has a locally made grappa on their shelf, whether it was in a fancy bottle or an unlabeled pitcher, and I sampled each one. I was determined to understand what made people want to drink it. Sometimes it came straight, and other times infused with a sweet liqueur. One time while dining with Lilo and Dieter in their apartment on Christmas Eve they mixed it with espresso and we drank it out of a four-spouted friendship pot. Grappa is versatile and can be enjoyed differently in its many incarnations. Slowly but surely the flavors became familiar and almost comforting.

If there’s one thing that tastes terrible it’s bad grappa, and it seems that most of what I’ve bought domestically in my lifetime has been bad. I say this because the commercial bottlings still make me pucker up and close my eyes, even after having developed a taste for the stuff. Part of the reason for this is the quality of the vinaccia - the pomace of grape skins used for distillation. Grappa is technically not brandy because it is not distilled from base wine, but rather the skins left over from pressing. Commercial distillers buy the left over musts from wineries all over Italy and it can take days before the loads are delivered and finally distilled. Quality grappa is made from vinaccia that is distilled immediately after pressing. Musts that are left to oxidize become less valuable because they lose their varietal character with passing time. Logically speaking, winemakers who also make grappa on-site are more likely to have distilled from fresher vinaccia and therefore have more flavorful grappa.

The difference between single-varietal grappa and blended commercial slop is like night and day. That $30 bottle you got at the supermarket probably burns like petrol, but a boutique grappa I recently tasted made solely from the Moscato grape smelled like flowers and fruit and went down smoothly. On September 1st, I will be replacing Susan Purnell as the spirits buyer for K&L (along with David Othenin-Girard in SoCal) and the first task on my list is to make you like grappa. In order to achieve this task I am trying to taste as much grappa as I can get my hands on and only buy the best products from producers who are serious about their craft. Two weeks ago I sampled the Marolo line-up and was very pleased. Located in Piedmont outside of Alba, they make outstanding distillates from Moscato, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo grapes - some are rich with barrel age and others clean and crisp. Some grappa purists drink only those straight off the still, while others appreciate the influence of new oak. I will leave it to you to decide which style you prefer.

Needless to say we will begin carrying these bottles immediately with some available in-store and others on a special order basis with fast delivery. I am confident that our general drinking public is going to fall head-over-heels for our quality grappa offerings, simply because they are rare and delicious. Why should you begin developing an affinity to grappa? That answer lies within you, of course. Maybe you’ve read about it in the paper, seen it in on an episode of the Sopranos, or watched a table full of Italians conclude their meal with style. Whatever your reason, I can guarantee you that whatever romantic notion you dream up, the grappas you find in our store will live up to your expectations (rather than singe your taste buds).

For more questions about grappa or other spirits, contact me at

-David Driscoll



Winemaker Interview: J-M Espinasse

Editor's Note: A portion of this interview with Jean-Marc Espinasse of Domaine Rouge-Bleu appeared in K&L's Junes newsletter. Jean-Marc appears above with his wife, the American writer Kristin Espinasse.


Describe your winemaking philosophy.

I am not a winemaker as an initial education but what I have always been told is that the most important [thing] is to harvest a grape when it is ready. Winemaking should happen naturally (without de-stemming), in a living vat (porous concrete for example). No punching and a minimum pump-over (in order to keep the hat wet) to avoid too much extraction and focus on finesse. Aging could happen in neutral barrel when the vintage style [shows it would] bring something to the wine.


What wines or winemakers helped influence your philosophy?

Domaine du Banneret (My Uncle Jean-Claude Vidal in Châteauneuf-du-Pape), Ridge Vineyards (Paul Draper), Château Pradeaux (Cyrillede Portalis in Bandol), Domaine Rabasse Charavin (Corinne Couturier in Cairanne), Jay Sommers (J. Christopher in Willamette Valley).


How involved in grape-growing are you? Is there a particular vineyard site that wows you year after year?

I farm my grapes (with biodynamic principles) and I am totally amazed by Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is 15 miles away. Closer to where we are, I am in love with Cairanne.


How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that’s influenced your wines?

From “bold” to finesse and elegance. In France, we have a saying: “The more you move forward on the wine path, the more you go to Burgundy (plus on avance dans le chemin du vin, plus on va vers la Bourgogne).


What kinds of food do you like to pair your wines with?

Sancerre or NZ Sauvignon with oysters, Zinfandel with wild boar, Meursault with Comte cheese, ice wine with desserts, old Châteauneuf—old Burgundy or old Barolo with pigeon, Provence rosé pour Spaghetti del mare.

What changes are planned for coming vintages? Any new (top secret) varietals, blends or propriety wines on the horizon?

I am planting a myriad of Rhône white grapes to co-ferment with our reds. Besides that, I am trying to keep our dear Old Vines alive, since they produce the core and the spirit of our wines.


Is there a style of wine that you think appeals to critics that might not represent your favorite style?

I am not a big fan of big chewy, oaky wines, but I can understand that some people like it. You can’t please everybody with one style and that is actually a good thing since it would not permit creativity. What I remark, though, is that a lot of people who used to be big fans of these thick wines evolve eventually to finesse and elegance.

What do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine?

All I can find that fits my palate. My very last two hits were a red Zinfandel from Joseph Swan 2000 in CA and a stunning red 2005 Craggy Range “Le Sol” Syrah Hawkes Bay from New Zealand. Besides this, I am getting more into drinking small Champagne producers (André Clouet, Voirin Jumel for example).


Do you collect wine? If so, what’s in your cellar?

Yes, we collect all vintages from Léoville-Barton—one of the good value Cru Classé each year. We also have a few cases of the ’05 Bordeaux from the top Cru, but I think they will go towards college fees. I cannot bring myself to drink wines of this value.


What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the wine industry today?

There are quite a few! At the moment the strength of the Euro for us is a problem for our export market, we do listen to our importers and try to make things easier for them to sell our wines at a consistent price. Unfortunately, production costs are still increasing here in France, and with the weaker economy worldwide it is tough for everybody at the moment…