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SCV Dining: Okay to wine here

Lee's Wine Bistro is where experts and novices meet to enjoy, discuss classic vintages

Posted: October 10, 2008 12:11 p.m.
Updated: December 11, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Ahi Tuna Tartar is one of the several light dishes featured at Lee's Wine Bistro.

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While he's been called the "Godfather of SCV Wine," Yoon Lee is not about making offers people cannot refuse, but he is about educating local individuals regarding the fruit of the vine.

As the owner of Lee's Wine Bistro and former member of All Corked Up, another local wine group, he has years of experience and expertise in the matter.

Having immigrated to the United States 40 years ago, Lee toiled at his uncle's liquor store in Laguna Beach.

"I learned a lot from wine-makers, distributors, salesmen and others," said the soft-spoken Lee. "I know that there are some people who would like to understand what wine to serve with certain foods. I'd like to think that - through wine-tasting events, classes and other instruction - I might be able to answer some of those questions.

"I'm a huge advocate of educating people. That's my passion."

One point Lee makes is that California has some of the best wines outside the fertile French vineyard region.

"With basically good weather all year 'round, this area produces some very good vintages," he said. "There are some bottles of French wine that sell for $200, $300 a bottle, but there are comparable California vintages that cost much less than that."

Lee's venue, opened just a month ago, is turning out to be the place to be for a more mature patron who comes in for a sip, some conversation, great music (much of which comes from a turntable and classic vinyl records) and possibly a cigar or two on the veranda.

"Right now, there is no night spot in this area which caters to those over 35 who just want to relax," said patron Steve Allen. "It's not a noisy bar scene, but a very nice place to meet friends and have a great time."

In addition to offering wine by the bottle or glass, Lee's Wine Bistro has light cold comfort food such as cheese and antipasto platters ($10) and a delicious Ahi Tuna Tartar ($12).

Hot dishes are also available, including Pasta Penne ($9), Sautéed Shrimp ($12), Barbecued Meatball Sliders ($9) and the venue's most popular sandwich, the "Grown Up Grilled Cheese" ($8).

Lee's Wine Bistro is located at 24510 Town Center Dr., and is open from noon-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and noon-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call (661) 259-7754.

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