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Splash Wine Lounge in North Park

Since this review of Splash Wine Lounge and Bistro in North Park San Diego was originally written, it has sadly closed. Splash Wine Bar was located at 3043 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104.

Below is our original review or you might enjoy our Guide to Balboa Park or our Self Guided Walking Tour of Old Town.  

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If you find yourself tooling around North Park looking for a place to get your wine on, then you’ll want to visit one of San Diego’s fun concepts in the age of the wine-bar.

Splash Wine Bar in North Park

“In water one sees one’s own face; but in wine, one beholds the heart of another.” -An Old French Proverb

What is it? It’s a groovy little place called Splash and if you will excuse the pun, it’s really making a quite a “splash” on the North Park wine scene. I really dig the concept of Splash and, I think you will as well. As far as the experience goes, I found it fresh and unique, like a newly bottled Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

I really like the fact they call themselves a wine bar and I believe it fits the bill. The term “wine bar” has become a bit cliché and frankly a bit diluted. It has become something that far too many restaurants with a bar use to describe themselves, a bit misleading at times.

I mean c’mon the mere presence of a wine menu does not make you a wine bar and vice-versa. In my opinion; Splash is the real-deal, a true wine bar and what some folks would call a wine lounge, as the comfy confines, can make lounging look like an art-form. In my mind the only thing keeping Splash from being a full-fledged wine lounge is the absence of a blues-band [sigh].

Splash Wine In North Park, San Diego

Splash Wine Bar Review

Splash Wine Lounge is all about the wine, but if you’re feeling a bit peckish, they have a small but growing menu to accompany your tastings. According to Splash owner Traci Smith, regarding the use of the Enotech, “It’s technology which allows Splash customers to taste on average over 72 different wines from around the world”. So we’re not just talking about California wines? Oh-no, your experience could range anywhere from a Washington State Horse Heaven Hills Merlot to a fat, throaty Shiraz from the Barossa Valley, down-under.

The basic concept is that it’s so nice to be able to swirl, sniff and sip through a few types of wine before choosing a bottle to enjoy and by the way, the bottle pricing is pretty reasonable.

For example, Splash had offered in the past, a 2007 Mount Rosa, Pinot Noir, Central Otago New Zealand for $30.00, which at the time tasted very lean and light, still showing very nice cola and raspberry notes, but the point is that you’ll find that their pricing is competitive.

According, the website, “Splash is using the latest Italian technology and they offer on average over 72 different labels in the form of a one ounce pour [splash], a glass or a bottle. You can expect to pay anywhere from .95 cents to 10 dollars for a one ounce pour, depending on the wine you select.

The enomatic wine machines have easily readable displays, declaring which wines are available for the consumer to “self-serve” a “splash” of wine with a prepaid debit-like card. It is very similar to a Dave and Busters type experience. It allows the wine lover and novices alike to try many different wines before selecting a glass; to sit and sip there or to take home for further enjoyment.

What I really like about Splash is the opportunity to taste many types and or styles of wine, everything from the sweet to the sophisticated. Their setup is a made to order serve yourself or you could just sit bar-side and have wine served by the glass [4-5 oz] or if you’re the kind of person who loves to discover new flavors, and styles of wine and you don’t mind the occasional bumping into other patrons, then Splash is definitely for you, give it a swirl.

Splash Wine In North Park, San Diego

Splash, definitely has a “chill” vibe, which is an appealing part of the wine-scene there and part of the reason they are so popular. Where else can you plop down onto the comfy sofas with some wine and chat with friends? Another nice aspect of Splash, is that it offers the opportunity to try some wines which are not always in everyone’s price range and/or are of very limited production. One other thing, if you like to double your spending power on an evening out, check out their Two-Splash Tuesdays. If you do need assistance; like recommendations, the owner and or staff are more than willing to accommodate your requests and answer questions.

On the other side of coin, while exploration is fun, it can also be quite expensive. If you do the math, while it may seem like quite a deal, that you’re only paying a dollar or two for 1 oz. of wine, you can quickly rack up quite a tab.

The other issue I’ve noticed; Splash has become a victim of its own popularity. Because of its small space, it can become very crowded, quite quickly. So, if you’re thinking of going to Splash with a large entourage, well that can be a little tricky. as the lounge chairs, couches and the bar seats are few in number and many times it’s standing room only.

Recommendations: Splash offers a wonderful opportunity for the average vino-sapien looking to do some exploration. You’ll find for the most part, there are no wine snobs looking over your shoulder telling you what you should be tasting.

If you’re one of those folks who is unsure whether you are a red or white wine fan, then here’s a perfect place to take your palate out on a test drive. On the other hand, if you are looking for more of a “bar-type” experience then you may want to save your money and try a different venue. Visiting mid-week is a great way to avoid the crowds and have an unhurried experience. Until next time folks, remember life is short, so sip long and prosper.  Cheers!


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