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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: The Butcher's Son, Sol Food, Al's Place

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Watch More of Season 14

Check, Please! Bay Area Season 14 episode 6 airs Thursday, May 16 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

Our first restaurant, The Butcher's Son in Berkeley, is a vegan delicatessen known for it's house made "meats" and "cheeses." Up next is Puerto Rican eatery Sol Food, a Marin County hot spot with delectable vegetarian options. Our final stop is Al's Place in San Francisco's Mission district, known for their use of fresh Northern California produce and their seasonal, ingredient driven menu.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 14 episode 6.
Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 14 episode 6. (Grace Cheung)

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Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine
Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine (Courtesy of Leslie Sbrocco)

My name is Leslie Sbrocco and I'm the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I will be sharing my tasting notes about the wine, beer, and spirits the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show.

Palmer & Co. Rosé Réserve Champagne, Reims, France $80
When an esteemed Champagne house like Palmer & Co. crafts a pink sparkler, you know it will be stunning. It does not disappoint…this wine is a superstar. Exotic aromas of white chocolate and strawberry tempt you, then you’re rewarded with a lusciously rich Champagne on the palate. It gains this full-bodied flair from a blend of red wine aged in solera for 35 years. Truly a unique wine for lovers of top Champagne.


2017 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California $42
As a longtime fan of Spottswoode, I believe they’re one of Napa Valley’s best wine producers (and the world’s, for that matter). Known for their elegantly-structured Cabernet Sauvignon, this white is a hidden gem. It ranks on my short list of top Sauvignon Blancs across the globe. A stylish white, it captures the fresh, lively essence of the grape variety but layers on lush complexity. A kiss of oak barrel fermentation along with lees stirring adds a supple textural element to round out the ping of acidity. It’s a glorious Sauvignon Blanc that will leave you wanting more with every sip.

To get a healthy dose of affordability, look to a region in Spain named Cariñena. Located outside the city of Zaragosa in Aragon, it’s an undiscovered treasure for wine drinkers on a budget. I visited a few years ago and was blown away by the rugged beauty of the place. Though planted primarily to famed Spanish grape, Garnacha, the red variety of Cariñena (known across France as Carignan) was born here. It produces red wines with savory, spicy juiciness.

2016 Bodegas San Valero 'Particular' Cariñena, Cariñena, Spain $14
This is a wine I recommend with great enthusiasm. It’s one of the best reds you can find for the price. Made with 100 percent Cariñena grapes, the rocky soils where the vines are planted gives a focused purity of red fruit flavors to the wine. Medium bodied and succulent, it’s a wine to buy by the case and pair with grilled salmon OR steak. All all-purpose red that will please all palates.

2017 Bodegas Paniza Syrah, Cariñena, Spain $9
This red is a super-bargain. Not overly complex or layered but offering sheer pleasure in the glass. A ripe, juicy Syrah not to be missed.

Thirsty for more beverage advice? You can find some of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here

Wine and spirits that guests drank on the set of season 14 episode 6.
Wine and spirits that guests drank on the set of season 14 episode 6. (Grace Cheung)

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