As he sat there perusing the 100-plus-wine list at Lunaria recently, my friend winced and said, “I thought you praised the wine list.”

“I did,” I said, “but that was 3 1/2 years ago.” Much has changed.

For one thing, when Bernard Jacoupy opened Lunaria in 1990, he acquired some wines from a failed Orange County restaurant and offered a lot of older wines at fair prices. All those wines are gone now, and though there is a wider selection than existed at the outset, prices have risen, so only the cognoscenti will have a good time.

Those who stick primarily to Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon will have a hard time finding a good value. Prices are twice retail in most cases, and even more than that over what you’d pay in a discount shop.


(Case in point: 1989 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon sells in most shops for $18, and at a few discounters for $13.89; here it’s $36.)

Mainly, you have to know something about unusual wines to get anything of value. Among white wines, I’d pick 1992 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc, $17.50, or 1991 Navarro Gewurztraminer, $22; among reds, a good buy is 1990 Franciscan Merlot, $22.50.