Hitting the Wine Bars in Seattle: A Good Way to Taste and Learn

By John ~ August 7th, 2009.

The Local VineMost Wednesday nights for the past two months have been “date night” for LaGayle and me at a local wine bar. We picked a different one each Wednesday and evaluated them in five different categories: first impression, service, wine, food, and value. It was fun; we met some friendly folks, found some good new wines, and plan to continue “date night” indefinitely. I hope some of you will join us in visiting your local wine bars.

Here’s a list of the seven wine bars we visited in order of our overall rating:

  1. The Local Vine
  2. Smash Wine Bar and Bistro
  3. Cellar 46 (Mercer Island)
  4. Purple (Seattle location)
  5. Swirl Wine Bar
  6. Poco Wine Room
  7. Grape Killers (advertised as a new wine bar, but turned out to be only a one-time event)

Our favorite, The Local Vine, is a place where you can hang out the way you would in a coffee shop while learning about or just enjoying wine. You can linger near a fireplace, or with your laptop using free Wi-Fi, while sipping wine and dining on small plates of food that pair with the wine. They have a good selection of wines by the glass, as well as wine flights, featuring Northwest and California wines along with other wines from around the world. The Local Vine is open seven days a week, with Happy Hour from 4pm-6pm and 10pm-close daily.

Smash Wine Bar and BistroIn each of the five categories, here’s our favorite wine bar(s):

First Impression
The Local Vine and Purple

Smash, Cellar 46, and Swirl

The Local Vine (where we found Parejas Rosé) and Smash

Purple (it was the best, but all were surprisingly good)

The Local Vine (especially during happy hour) and Cellar 46. We thought Purple was way too expensive compared to the others.

Obviously, which one you might prefer will depend on what is most important to you. We’ll definitely be going back to The Local Vine, not only because we rated it the highest, but also because the other two Wine Peeps, Kori and Colby, along with their 2 ½ year old daughter could join us, because they have a kid-friendly seating area outside the bar-proper.

We’d love to hear about your favorite wine bars. If you live in Seattle, do our selections jive with yours?

Filed under: Wine Bars

Reader's Comments

  1. Josh | August 11th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Next Wednesday, try The Tasting Room down in Post Alley. Often times they’ll have a winemaker or two behind the bar pouring their own wines, all of which are Washington. The staff are really knowledgeable and passionate and the casual atmosphere lends well to conversation with strangers up at the bar.

    Full disclosure, TTR is a sponsor of Wino, but I was a fan *long* before Jen wanted to work with us. So don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. 🙂

  2. John | August 12th, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Thanks for the tip. I do have it on my list to visit, although I didn’t think they had food?

  3. Lia | August 12th, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Try Picnic, located here on Phinney Ridge (Greenwood Ave N). Thursday nights they have wine tastings where they serve cuts of meat and usually some other delicious bites. They also have a menu with soups, salads, and sandwiches you can order from anytime.

    And let me know if you decide to go. Kyle and I are just a short walk away!

  4. Josh | August 12th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    They do have food, though I’ve only tried the meat & cheese plate: an assortment of Salumi sausage (including the mole) and Beecher’s cheeses. I believe there’s an olive sampler as well. So yeah, “wine bar” food.

  5. John | August 12th, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Josh, thanks for the additional info on The Tasting Room at Post Alley, and Lia thanks for the scoop on Picnic.

  6. Lisa Turner | September 16th, 2009 at 8:43 am

    I think I messed up my wine palate at Smash by having the Warm French Donuts. “Life is short, eat dessert first.”

  7. John | September 16th, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I’m not surprised! That’s good advice, but I rarely find myself eating dessert first.

  8. Benson | January 4th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Try black bottle. One block away from the Local vine. Way better food and cheaper wine!

  9. John | January 5th, 2010 at 6:27 am

    Benson, Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to try it.

  10. Electronic Circuits · | November 4th, 2010 at 7:06 am

    there are many wine bars in our area and i always visit them coz i love to drink ~