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.