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Fine wine in this new Southwedge venue


Solera: Grape expectations

There are a lot of pains in life --- heartbreak, plastic surgery gone wrong, debt, death. And yet I find nothing comes close to the excruciating realm of the red wine hangover. It's hell, people. If you're like me, you waste a day in the fetal position, twist a cherry-flavored Alka-Seltzer in your hand, and talk to your cat about how you swear you will never have a glass of cabernet again. And if I happen to be at work, I catch myself staring at a screen saver craving a cheeseburger with fries.

On this particular workday, I was recovering from a party the night before. My assignment was to head to the new wine bar in the Southwedge called Solera. The whole drive I was preparing to get a feel for the place without sampling the goods. That didn't happen.

Solera is the nightlife equivalent of a warm blanket --- the sophisticated made-with-fine-cashmere kind of blanket. You are greeted with deep red walls, seductively dim lighting, and owner John Fanning's welcoming gaze. Twenty-foot ceilings soar above; intimate café like seating is placed around the small bar with cozy nooks ready for conversation. A couple pieces of art stand out against the dark walls; Fanning commissioned a young artist from Rochester to paint artwork to specifically match his vision of his wine bar, resembling a French woman on wine infused LSD. I sat at the bar and found two other patrons practically worshipping the place; I inquired if they were friends, but apparently they just met. I quickly found out why Solera has such a magical effect.

Fanning's background is enough for anyone to want to grab a glass of wine and listen intently; it's a story. Sure enough, I found myself with a 2003 MasPerinetPriorato from Spain. Fanning's been in the wine business for five years now. He grew up on Long Island and found himself in California living on a vineyard and then volunteering in Oregonpicking grapes with migrant workers. That led to working at wineries in Tuscany, and finally landing in the Finger Lakes region. It's this diversity that makes Solerastand out.

John explains, "I want to create a new niche and intimacy with the wine bar. This is something I've always wanted to do."

Solera is located at 647 South Avenue, and open Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until midnight on the weekends, 11 p.m. weekdays. There are 12 bottles available by the glass, ranging from $5 to $9; my glass cost $7 and it was fantastic. There are also beer and cheese plates offered. Check out the website for more information: