Wine Bar of the Week: Fifth Floor (plus "Beverage Battles")

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The bar at Fifth Floor (12 4th St) isn't a place passers-by are likely to wander into by accident. To get there, you walk to the back of the Hotel Palomar lobby and take the elevator to, obviously, the 5th floor. This low profile means the cozy place is usually quiet, making it a good place to meet friends or unwind after shopping or events at nearby Moscone Center.

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At their "honor bar," you pour yourself a glass of wine from a choice of one sparkling and three each whites and reds. On the night I visited, $4.50 to $19 for 3-oz. tastes, $9 to $28.50 for 6-oz. glasses, tax included (and you don't need to tip yourself). Alternatively, you can pour a three-wine taste flight ($25 / $28), which comes with a printout of notes by sommelier Emily Wines. There's also a full bar, but if you want anything from it  you'll have to flag down a server. Apparently the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has a problem with self-service hard liquor.

Fifth Floor is also hosting a series of "beverage battles" in which Wines challenges two of her colleagues to come up with the best pairings for a five-course meal. Tonight at 7:30 is Battle of the Sommeliers, with Wines, Brian Cronin, and Paul Einbaum (formerly of Coi) representing old world wines, new world wines, and "anything but wine." On Wednesday, March 18, with a Gascon-inspired vegetarian menu, Wines's wines will go up against beers selected by Craig and Beth Wathen of City Beer and cocktails by the Clock Bar's Marco Dionysos.
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