Having moved to Seattle, I figured that given my tastes, I should take the time to find, visit and figure out for myself what wine bars in the area were worth the time and money. In short, I have found my top three wine bars. First of all let me say that my top three picks have all been selected as one of the top 10 Seattle Wine Bars two years in a row, both in 2009 and 2010. You can see the 2009 results here at Guidespot. I should also point out that my tastes run to the smaller, quainter type wine bars with personality over the pretentious. So without further introduction here are my top three picks, in no particular order.
First on my list is the wonderfully quaint and Parisian styled Sitting Room located at 108 West Roy Street, Seattle, WA. This Queen Anne gem has to be the most comfortable and relaxing wine bar in Seattle. On those rare beautiful sunny days they throw open the “garage door” and let in the sunshine and breeze. If you close your eyes and imagine just a little you could almost believe that you are in Paris. The main wine selections here at the Sitting room focus mostly on imports from France and Italy. If you are looking for a more local flare read on! The wonderful sitting room is you destination if you are looking for a “continental flare” and a friendly staff that is as knowledgeable about the menu as they are about their wines. Their menu is good and the food excellent. Their tapenade is an absolute must for a starter dish. Also, if it is still available you must try a glass of crimson cotes-du-rhone, if I remember correctly it was a 2006 Louis Bernard. I am not a wine connoisseur but I know what I like so here is my feeble attempt to describe the wine, with a little help from my friends at Snooth.com, it has a dark almost crimson color with scents of blackberry and plum with a smooth silk like tannins and hints of raisin at the end. If you can you have to go during happy hour and try some of the house wines and don’t pass up the cheese platter to compliment the wine. My personal favorite for a nice early cocktail is a half-carafe of the house red, bold and semi-dry with a nice bouquet of fruits with a smooth finish. For a perfect complement to your house red order the cheese platter you won’t be disappointed. If I have only one complaint it is that they should try to change up their wine selection like my other favorite wine bars. Another unique quality for this gem of a wine bar is the available parking. For anyone who has hung out in Seattle you know what a mess and expense that parking can be. So having some easily accessible parking that is affordable scores big in my book. If your tastes run towards the Parisian and Continental flare then if you are ever in the Queen Anne area do yourself a favor and take the time to visit the Sitting room.
Next on my list is the Poco Wine Room. What I find to be a beautiful play on words is the fact that “poco” means “little” in Spanish and quite honestly there is nothing “little” about “Poco!” from their soaring ceilings to their selection of wines there is nothing to small about the Poco! This beautifully simple wine bar focuses its attention on boutique Northwest wines and rotates its selection seasonally. What makes Poco so truly unique is the fact that they are so unpretentious. The staff alone is worth the visit; fun, inviting, opinionated and as a group of individuals they can traverse and intersect conversations as well as world champion Tango dancers traverse a dance floor. However, I would be remise if I did not point out that if you are on a date they are polite enough to leave you to your own private conversations. But if you are alone or in a group and looking to gab this is the place! As to the ambiance all I can say is flawless; intimate, simple, informal and most important, at least to me, unpretentious and yes, they do have a happy hour. The Poco also offers a full menu and serve some of the best desserts in town. On my last visit, I believe it was back in October, my companion ordered a duck dish that left me wishing that I had made the same order, I can only hope and pray that it is still on the menu because, without a doubt, this will be my dinner order upon my return. Given that their wines are seasonal it would be cruel to tell you about a wonderful wine only for you to show up to find that they no longer have it available; but, I must. If it is available you must try the South African Warwick Pinotage, vintage 2007. The body and bouquet on this fabulous wine defy my meager ability to describe. Again, with the help of Snooth.com, it was a plum garnet color with a sophisticated blend of fruits and sweetness that are mellowed by the wood aging with just a perfect spice finish. This was my wine! If you are not sure what wine to order just talk to the staff, to date I have never been mislead by one of their recommendations. From its décor to its staff, the Poco wine room hits the mark. The Poco Wine Room is located at 1408 E. Pine Street, Seattle, WA 98122.
As I have mentioned, my tastes run towards the quaint locales with personality over pomp and my last choice is no exception. Smash Wine Bar and Bistro is such a local gem. Quite honestly, based on their wine selection and happy hour fare I think it is fair to say that the Smash has the best happy hour in Seattle! If there is any downside at all to Smash it would probably be the tricky parking situation. Personally I park elsewhere and either walk or take a cab. But now back to the bigger and better things. The last time I was there I ordered an exquisitely bold red that I believe was called Spanish Inquisition. As they would say in Spain; “Maravilloso!” in English that means “Marvelous” and it was exactly that! Oh, and before I forget, the last time I was their Dana, the owner, kept a full time on staff sommelier which speaks volumes as to how much effort they put into making sure your visit is perfect! Now, if it is still on the menu, you must try the homemade Sangria. I have been to Spain and am Cuban by heritage and have had Sangria anywhere I can get it and Smash is on my top 5 list for their wonderfully blended Sangria; if you can order the Sangria and decide for yourself if I am right or wrong. If you are really adventurous order a “flight” of wines and compare and contrast them till you find your perfect soul mate. The Smash also has a full menu, but in my humble opinion, their strength rests in their appetizers/Tapas but if you are going to order a meal then an absolute must order item is their, shall I say legendary, truffled white cheddar macaroni and cheese. If you are up for conversation sit at the bar but if you want an intimate night with your companion then the booths at the back are your destination. The Smash Wine Bar is located at 1401 N. 45th Street, Seattle, WA 98103.
In closing, if you want pomp and circumstance these are not the wine bars for you. For that, try the east-side founded wine bars like the Purple; but, if in fact, what you are looking for is a place to relax, some great company, great wines and affordable prices then do yourself a favor and take the time to visit one of my local watering holes. Who knows, you just might catch me there in a great mood and I just might buy you a glass. Cheers!