S. Irene Virbila

S. Irene Virbila is a restaurant critic and wine columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Her worldly perspective on the L.A. dining scene has won a James Beard Foundation Award in 1997 and the American Food Journalists Award in 2005. Before joining The Times in 1993, she wrote about food, wine and travel from Europe and Asia, trained as a sommelier in Paris, edited cookbooks and was part of the culinary scene in Berkeley when Chez Panisse changed everything. 

Recent Articles

  • Three grand California red wines to go with that great burger

    Three grand California red wines to go with that great burger

    A well-made burger can be just as satisfying as a complicated dish fussed over for hours. And while a Coke or a Pepsi tasted terrific with your burger and fries when you were a kid, you might want to consider upgrading to red wine — and by that, I don't mean the equivalent of Two Buck Chuck.

  • This wine barrel broker likes rosé with her ahi tuna

    This wine barrel broker likes rosé with her ahi tuna

    Wine barrel broker Françoise Gouges comes from a wine-making family in Burgundy but moved to Southern California in her early 20s. She’s never strayed far from her roots, though. As the representative for Tonnellerie Sirugue USA, she travels up and down the West Coast, from Temecula to the Okanagan...

  • Cool tools for your home bar or bar cart

    Cool tools for your home bar or bar cart

    Modern bartenders have all sorts of complicated gizmos they use to create cocktails, such as an immersion circulator for flash infusing. But do we cocktail enthusiasts really need the equipment to get into barrel-aging Negroni or concocting our own bitters or distillates?

  • Whiskey with beef, gin with shrimp: A guide to pairing spirits, food

    Whiskey with beef, gin with shrimp: A guide to pairing spirits, food

    Tin Vuong is so convinced that whiskey and aged beef are a great match that he created a restaurant — Steak & Whisky — around that pairing. "Whiskey has a rich, deep and very smoky underlying flavor that works really well with aged beef," says Vuong. The ultimate for him is Japanese whiskey which...

  • Jar's Suzanne Tracht drinks mostly reds -- and pink bubbly

    Jar's Suzanne Tracht drinks mostly reds -- and pink bubbly

    Suzanne Tracht, chef/owner of Jar in Los Angeles, always had wine at the dinner table growing up. When she was starting out as a cook, her apprenticeship at the Arizona Biltmore included an eight-week course in wine. Now, at Jar, she says, “many of my customers send over a taste of their favorite...

  • Pasadena Grand PinotFest pits California against Oregon

    Pasadena Grand PinotFest pits California against Oregon

    Coming up May 17 is the eighth Pasadena Grand PinotFest. This year it will be held at a private estate in South Pasadena. Pony up the ticket price of $110 (or $155 for VIP admission) for the chance to taste 100 Pinot Noirs from 50 wineries in California and Oregon.

  • Brunch time is mimosa time; try one with Prosecco

    Brunch time is mimosa time; try one with Prosecco

    At brunch, the short-lived Fifty Seven in the downtown arts district served an ingenious DIY mimosa kit: a bottle of sparkling wine on ice and a trio of glass pitchers holding chilled orange juice and peach and melon purées. That way everyone at the table could mix the light, refreshing cocktail...

  • Where to drink Chianti and eat foie gras terrine tonight

    Where to drink Chianti and eat foie gras terrine tonight

    Roberto Stucchi, the owner and winemaker of the Chianti Classico estate Badia a Coltibuono, doesn’t get to Los Angeles very often. But he’s here Wednesday night, presenting his wines at a five-course dinner at Michael’s on Naples in Long Beach.

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