I’m a beer person, but now and then I can enjoy a glass of what is usually cheap red wine, nothing over a $15 bottle, and Haleiwa’s Bonzer Front is my go to spot. My palate, which is uneducated in the world of wine cannot explain why I prefer red over white, or why red zinfandel is my favorite. All I can really say is, “I think it tastes better than the rest.” I also have no idea what wines are best paired with or how to describe a wine in “wine terms.”
With that said, on any Saturday evening on the North Shore (or if you fancy a drive from somewhere else) wine tasting at the Bonzer Front, a new little boutique-slash-wine cellar and coffee bar in Haleiwa that recently opened is a fun and tasty thing to do. The Bonzer Front is owned by the daughters of the owner of Cafe Haleiwa. The shop sells bathing suits, some clothing, pretty tasty coffees, beer, vodka, tequila, and of course, wine.
Noelle Hayes is the “cellar master,” and her husband Jason, obviously a wine connoisseur, was pouring. We had the option of tasting out of a wine glass we could purchase, or a plastic disposable cup for free. We went with the plastic.
They opened with a red wine called Kaena, made in California by a Hawaiian wine maker. I had seen it in the store many times but never purchased it—it’s a good four or five bucks over my wine price limit. Jason followed it with some white, and a really good beer too.
Realizing I had the perfect opportunity to learn a few very basic things, I picked Jason’s wine-enthused brain as I worked on my buzz.
I finally got to ask someone all of those little wine questions I had always wondered about. How exactly does a person pronounce grenache? What’s it made of? What wine goes with what type of food? Is Merlot crap as it’s portrayed to be in the movie Sideways? (No, it’s not.)
It turns out that the different shaped wine bottles aren’t about function, but identifies the region the wine came from, and the type of wine in it. If you know your bottles, you could identify what type of wine it holds without reading the label.
The one little wine fact I thought I knew I learned from a waiter: that the thicker and slower the legs dripped meant a better wine. Turns out he was wrong. The legs don’t define quality, but are an indication of the amount of alcohol and other elements in the wine.
I learned a lot of basic wine facts that most people probably already know. Noelle is super nice and Jason knew his stuff and was happy to answer my silly questions.
Wine tasting at the Bonzer Front is a good opportunity to put on a little black dress or a button up shirt, and socialize in a way that is uncommon on the North Shore. The small wine room feels classy and modern with nice lit up wooden shelves displaying the wine, and a refrigerator with some really good beer and chilled wine. It was a nice break from the surfer crazed, sandy foot, and slipper wearing North Shore I’m used to. I left with a bottle of zinfandel that cost a hell of a lot more than 15 bucks.