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About this Episode

Grace Hood, wine educator and certified sommelier, and Robert Tas review the wine list at Cucina Urbana where they serve contemporary Italian cuisine with a focus on California seasonality and the bounty of local farms. Their wine program features 200+ labels from around the world, with an emphasis on Italian and California varietals and Grace peruses the wine list to find some hidden gems, including a white Bordeaux that has been described as “liquid gold” a fabulous Cremant, which equals Champagne if bubbles are on your mind, and a unique, pinot noir rose from Sancerre.

Wines reviewed include:

  • 2020 Gruner Veltliner, Manni Nossing Winery,  Alto Adige

  • 2017 Mayacamas, Mt. Veeder, Napa

  • 2019 Grenache one from the Giovanni Montisci Vineyard, Sardinia

Transcript: Cucina Urbana

Cucina Urbana

RT: Hello and welcome to CorkRules! 

A podcast where, in each episode, we will review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Grace Hood, wine educator and certified sommelier. Hello Grace, it’s great to have you!

GH: Happy to be here as always Robert!

RT: Before we jump in, let’s talk about CorkRules. We created CorkRules to demystify wine lists because we know from experience that sometimes when we get that list handed to us, well… It can be intimidating, and even a little daunting.

Our aim is to help prepare you to navigate that list, find those hidden gems, or value wines or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top.

RT: So, sit back and listen as we review your favorite wine list. What spot are we reviewing today, Grace?

GH: Today we’re chatting about a San Diego Italian staple – Cucina Urbana. I’ve been a big fan of this place ever since I moved to the city 12 years ago. One thing I really love about this spot and what makes it really unique is that they call themselves a retail wine shop inside a restaurant.

RT: That’s an interesting concept! How would that work then? 

GH: They price their wines with retail pricing in mind. Which means they are usually lower cost than when you buy wine at restaurant prices. Buying wine in a wine shop is usually way cheaper than buying wine from a restaurant list right? So that’s the concept they’re running with here! When you buy a bottle to enjoy, you’re getting it at the retail cost, and they only charge you a $10 corkage fee. Honestly that's a steal!

RT: Oh man they must be very popular with the wine crowd in San Diego then!  

GH: Totally Robert. They have a few more locations in their hospitality brand as well. They’re definitely a SoCal success!

RT: Love that. So, should we dive into some recommendations? 

GH: Totally! So, they have their wine list sorted by the classic, red, white rose sparkling. But then they break it down into “here, there and everywhere”. I'm excited to see what selections they have in each area!

RT: And let me guess – we’ll be starting with sparkling!

GH: Hey buddy I don’t make the wine rules, I just make people happy! Hahah But yes if you wanted to start with bubbles, they have some great options for Italian as well as traditional sparkling. You could go with a classic prosecco, but I’m really interested in this Pinot Nero/Chardonnay Blend from the Pojer e Sandri Vineyard in Alto Adige. Or if you wanted a French sparkling, they have one from the Loire valley which honestly, I've never seen before! Of course, everyone knows champagne, but there are other places in France that make fabulous Cremant. This one is a Pineau d’Aunis coming from the Domaine Brazier vineyard.

RT: Oh, wow those are super unique! I’ve never even heard of that grape before. Must be super indigenous to the area. Definitely something delicious to try. San Diego is such a sunny place – I assume they have some great selections for rose all day?

GH: Of course, they do my friend! If you wanted an Italian rose, they have a 2019 Grenache one from the Giovanni Montisci Vineyard out of Sardinia. And if you wanted something French, but outside of the traditional Provence area, they have a 2021 Pinot Noir Rose from the Lucien Crochet Vineyard in Sancerre.

RT: Oh yum! I love Sancerre's but usually have their Sauvignon Blancs. I’m sure their pinot noir rose is just as good. Now how about some whites?

GH: If you want a lighter-style Italian white, I would go with this 2020 Gruner Veltliner from the Manni Nossing Winery in Alto Adige. And then of course I can’t Forget my Cali chard drinkers – they have a killer selection so you can’t go wrong with any, but my pick would be 2017 Mayacamas from Mt. Veeder in Napa.

RT: Oh that’s a great call. I love anything Mayacamas makes. Now we’re at an Italian spot. Can’t wait to hear your picks for red wines!

GH: Oh man they had so many good options! If you’re wanting Italian b/c when in Rome ya know ha-ha I would do either this 2014 Barolo from La Bioca, or if you want something more full bodied, they have a 2003 Cabernet Merlot Blend from Josco Gravner that is definitely read to drink now!

RT: Yum sounds delicious! Either of those would be awesome. What about some California reds?

GH: For a light California – I would do the 2017 Byron Giddlestix pinot noir from Santa Rita Hills. And for a traditional California Cabernet – the 2016 Heitz Martha's vineyard from Napa

RT: Great choices as always! Grace, thank you so much for helping us navigate the wine list at Cucina Urbana.  To our audience, thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.  If you would like us to review one of your favorite restaurants, please send us email to: Info@CorkRules.Com or visit our web website where we have a request form available and we will do our best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible.

We are looking forward to being with you on another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists. Follow us on social media @CorkRules and @wineswithgrace

And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.

Thank you.






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