I'm so glad to see there are four wine bars / tasting rooms in Pasadena (at last count). There's Bodega's (in the Paseo Colorado), E's (on Colorado in Old Pasadena), Heritage (on Raymond in Old Pasadena), and The Nose (in the Playhouse District). I here to tell you about The Nose.
The Nose is hidden in that little shopping gallery across the street from Vroman's and Laemmle's, where you will also find Sachi, Yahaira's, and AJ's. As of this writing, it's been open only three weeks and I think it's a promising little shop. You just have to look for it.
The owner--Stef--runs the place and is very enthusiastic about good wine, particularly those that are also good bargains. Two notable wines in my tasting was a Cabernet-Tempranillo blend from Vega Sindoa, heady with a floral perfume and tasting of sweet spices and white pepper, for $14; and a Sauternes from Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste, sticky-sweet and rich with the scent and flavor of honey, nuts, and apricots, for $29. He also offers tasting flights (including, of all things, a first and second cru Bordeaux), a couple dozen wines by the glass, and a cheese tasting.
I suppose the only down-side is that his short tasting menu starts at $14 and goes into the twenties--twice the price I'm accustomed to at a winery. On the other hand, that price gave me the opportunity to taste a premier cru Haut-Medoc, and almost all his tasting selections are international choices, so I can't really knock it.
Stef is great at discussing wine in general and his passion shows when he wants to educate you about wine. I hope more people visit and find time to sit for a tasting or two. (He says AJ's and Sachi will even deliver lunch or dinner to The Nose so you can have a meal with your wine.) The other wine places in Pasadena are better exposed and/or have better marketing, but I've found myself most comfortable at The Nose.