Though I do try to check out new places all the time, I don’t always succeed. It’s too easy to get comfortable with a routine, a pattern, a chosen route that only includes the known favorites.

That, however, can backfire. I’ve been hitting my neighborhood wine bar, The Village Cork, on a regular basis for ages. They offer $5 glasses of wine after 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends — for any open bottle, which is a steal for a $13 glass of wine.

So imagine my surprise when I learned today that yours truly, confirmed wino, has been missing out on one of Denver’s killer wine deals. At lunch today at Venice Ristorante Italiano (formerly Adega at 17th & Wynkoop), I heard from my fellow diners that the happy hour is to die for. Served in the bar area from 11a.m. to 7 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to close on weekdays (5 to 7 p.m. and 9 to close on weekends), this is a great deal with a generous time limit. The $5 wine list includes a crisp Sartori pinot grigio — perfect for hot summer days — and includes 17 other varietals ranging from a light Prosecco to a big red Super Tuscan. Plus, for $3, you can score one of 14 small plates. Try the Tortellini con Filetto, pasta stuffed with beef, porcini mushrooms, and ricotta in a gorgonzola cream sauce wtih prosciutto and spinach. It’s so rich and delicious you’ll be glad it’s a small plate.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Village Cork. But a girl needs a little variety. Spice of life and all that, right? So next time I’m tempted to stick close to the ‘hood for a wine-themed happy hour, I’ll take the short trip downtown and hit Venice instead.

Oh, and lest you worry about that nasty parking-downtown-is-a-pain issue, they even offer free valet service. Just do me a favor. When the word gets out and the place gets packed, save me a bar stool, k?