Apparently, the Pacific Northwest has ideal conditions for growing grapes and making them into wine. We’ll let the experts deal with the harvesting and foot-mashing and whatever it is that happens to fruit to give it an ABV - just let us know when it’s done and we’ll drink it. Luckily, Seattle’s also a great place to do that.
Whether you’re entertaining your parents who brag about having their own bottle cellar or just looking to have one too many glasses of wine with some friends, here’s a guide to our favorite unstuffy spots to drink alcoholic grape juice. Cheers.
Bar Ferdinand leads the pack when it comes to serving wine you might not find elsewhere in Seattle, like a red from the Finger Lakes or a yeasty rosé that almost tastes like a cold beer. You can buy bottles to take home, and it’s usually not too hard to grab a seat here on the weekend, despite the appeal of the exposed wood beams and string lights. Make sure to take advantage of the housemade cured meats and sourdough bread, the burrata if they have it, or the reasonably-priced tasting menu if you’re with your parents/a date and want a full meal.
Imagine that you’re hanging out in your friends’ not-completely-renovated basement, playing around with their record player - but instead of drinking whatever beers they happen to have left in the fridge, you’re sipping really sophisticated wine in South Park. This is Left Bank, and it’s the definition of a neighborhood spot. It also happens to be the coolest Seattle wine bar you probably haven’t been to (yet). You don’t have to choose between a down-to-earth bartender (who still knows his sh*t about grapes), BYO vinyl Tuesdays, flights of five reds for $10, and a chill space to shoot the breeze and eat some takeout with your glass of Slovenian white - you can have all of the above. And if you truly want to feel like you’re in that friend’s basement, they sell a rotating “cheap beer” for three bucks, too.
You probably already know that when The Walrus And The Carpenter is packed (so basically, at all times), you can pop into Barnacle for a drink. But this narrow, artisanal tile-covered space really deserves to be a destination on its own, especially for wine. Whatever you order will go well with snacks like hand-shaved jamon and/or a bowl of free potato chips.
Drinking at Bottlehouse is like the upgraded version of sitting on the couch in pajamas swilling some two-buck chuck from the bottle. This place is a renovated home, porch and all, which makes it really perfect for summertime wine drinking - but equally great in the winter, when you can hang out in the living-room-like interior. The wines by the glass are pretty diverse, and most of the cocktails also include some kind of wine. There are cheesemongers who can pair cheese and charcuterie with whatever you want to drink, too. Even if you only get a baguette with butter and local honey, it’s going to be a good time.
If you’re not feeling the four-hour trek to Walla Walla, or even the 20 minutes to Woodinville, you can still get your tasting in - Charles Smith Jet City Wines is a pretty neat spot to do that. It’s in Georgetown overlooking Boeing Field. Charles Smith makes some of our favorite Washington wines, and the labels also have very cool designs, which we all know makes wine taste better. Come here with a couple of hours to kill and get drunk on a million little wine sips while watching planes take off.
The Barrel Thief is not only a place that makes wine-drinking fun - it’s also a place that makes it highly competitive. We’ll explain. There are 175 different wines by the glass. Which is a lot. But each time you return, you can check off what you’ve tried in order to work your way toward a discount on drinks there for life. It’s called the Wine Passport, and it should without question be used to create a contest between you and your friends. May the thirstiest person win.
If you’re into wine, walking inside Purple is not much different from that scene in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory when our heroes enter the factory for the first time and look around in awe. But instead of a molten chocolate waterfall, there’s a spiral staircase wrapped around a floor-to-ceiling bookcase full of bottles. It’s the most famous place of its kind in the city, and while there’s a chance you’ll get matched with the occasional unhelpful bartender, it lives up to the hype when it comes to your sheer number of options. You want something from Austria? You got it. A flight of obscure reds that’s literally titled, “You’ve Probably Never Had One Of These”? It’s yours. Orange wine? Yeah, sure. Add some meats and cheeses for good measure.
Le Caviste is not the place to bring your friends who own super-jumbo wine glasses or shirts that say It’s Wine O’Clock! Le Caviste is where you should go with your parents, or a date you want to impress by making it seem like you know your sh*t about terroir and tannins and the most ideal climate for grape skins to thrive in. That might make it sound stuffy, but it’s actually a great space for hanging out. The entire menu is in French, but the staff is all business and very happy to help. No matter what, make sure to get a charcuterie board.
When you want to drink a glass of something great but also keep things casual, keep Locöl Barley & Vine in mind. As you may or may not have guessed from the name, most of the wines are local, and the surroundings look like a cross between a low-key cabin and an art gallery with quirky stuff like a painting of a T-Rex fossil mowing the lawn. In addition to all the wine, there are plenty of good beers for your group to try. Plus, the food here (like pho-seasoned meatballs with hoisin/sriracha, slow-cooked pork tacos, and blackened pork belly with cheddar grits) is excellent.
Dreams happen if you put your mind to them, so if your dream is to be able to have a latte while doing some work on your laptop, then casually transitioning to a couple glasses of wine, that is a thing you can do at Vif. They have small snacks like nuts and cheese, but also more substantial things like tartines and salads. It’s a great first date situation when you haven’t quite decided yet if you want to grab a coffee or a bottle of white (or if you blacked out from nerves and can’t even remember what you discussed).
It takes a certain kind of person to fully enjoy Lady Yum - partly because of the name. But once you get past the fact that there’s a little too much pastel pink going on, you’ll realize that this cafe has the best champagne deal in the city. Sit in one of the strangely Game Of Thrones-like chairs with a flute of $4 brut and a pile of homemade macarons. You’re fully entitled to start forcing people to refer to you as First Of Your Name, Protector Of Sparkling Wine, Breaker Of Pastries.
Frosé still counts as wine, even if you have to repeat that to yourself in front of a mirror a few times before you’re convinced. You can find the best at The Belmont (but only during the warmer months), where it’s made with frozen watermelon and no ice to water it down. You can also get some bites like cheeses, meats, and nuts if you’re hungry. The space is like a pop art-covered bottle shop with comfortable living room furniture, and it’s a fun spot whether you’re inside with your book club in the winter or at a bistro table outside in the summer. We like this place enough that we’ll even forgive them for serving their frosé with those highly aggravating paper straws that taste like soggy envelopes.