New Kid on the Block

Cruising past the inconspicuous shop on De la Vina, it’s hard to imagine the wine-lover’s sanctuary within: Sean Larkins’s Vino Divino is a mini-universe of wine nirvana. The cellar-like boutique enchants with its eclectic selection, laid-back atmosphere, and cozy lounge. A refreshing change from the stereotypical wine-shop snob, Larkins treats his customers like friends. Whether you want advice choosing a dazzling bottle for tonight’s dinner or directions to the $7.99 Kalyra Cashmere, Larkins is happy to oblige (just don’t ask about white zin).

Back in 1996, when Larkins got a job at the now long-defunct Wine Times on State Street, it was just another means to an end. After five years there and two more at Mission Wine Broker, Larkins had become a true connoisseur. Thoroughly versed in more wines than most people could ever fathom, he was equipped with the knowledge to start his own venture.

Word is out among the local wine community that there’s a new kid on the block. At his December monthly tasting (in celebration of his first anniversary) at least 40 people showed up to sample an array of 12 wines while munching on hors d’oeuvres. Standouts were a 2001 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2002 Tandem Pinot Noir (a swath of earthy, ancient fruit), and a 2002 St. Jakobi Shiraz (a cocoa-raspberry sashay through the taste buds).

Two weeks ago, Larkins pulled off his most adventurous tasting yet. Pairing gourmet Thai food with top-notch wines could be a new trendsetter. Chef Tee was summoned from L.A. to knock some socks off, coupling her innovative dishes with the likes of Alban Viognier and several other stars. It sold out in a matter of days. Good thing writing has its privileges.

4·1·1 Vino Divino, 2012 De la Vina St., 682-7484.

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