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.
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 some natural wine in South Park. This is Left Bank, and it’s the definition of a neighborhood spot. You don’t have to choose between a down-to-earth bartender (who still knows his sh*t), 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.
If the last wine you drank on tap was from a Franzia bag someone else was holding above your head, it’s time to change that immediately (or at least upgrade to Peter Vella). Footprint is one of our favorite places to drink wine because it has the chillness of a brewery, with flights of wine and trivia card games about grapes, in case you wanted to brush up on your viticulture expertise.
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 (get the frozen one). There are cheesemongers who can pair cheese and charcuterie with whatever you want to drink, too. Even if you only get a baguette with chèvre and salted ganache, it’s going to be a good time.
La Dive is a wine bar that feels right at home in Capitol Hill - it’s a place where chugging champagne as fast as you possibly can is encouraged. You can do that by ordering a Chambong, which you can either shoot with bubbles or Miller High Life. This place specializes in natural wine, and you’ll see a bunch of different stuff on their list, like funky orange wines, Spanish red from a bag, and frozen Beaujolais slushies with Campari. There are also plenty of booths for your group along with a full menu of toasts and pelmeni dumplings.
Maybe you’re not in the market to blind taste six different varietals made exclusively from Argentinian grapes, but you don’t want to just do one glass of wine and call it a night. Claret has something called “wine duos,” which are two half-glass pours of the same type of wine, only from different wineries. The service is breezy and chill, and they have charcuterie and cheese platters if you’re hungry.
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.
L’Oursin is a sepia-toned French spot in the Central District that happens to have an incredibly diverse lineup of natural wines (though not all of them are French). Somebody had a lot of fun writing the wine list, with descriptors such as “like French kissing a mermaid,” “for drinking with your coven,” and “a goddamn 5th Golden Girl.” Pair with some light snacks like ham and melon, or show up on a Monday for burger night at the bar.
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, 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.
Petite Soif means “little thirst” in French, but there’s so many great wines at this natural wine bar in Beacon Hill that we wish we could try everything. Petite Soif is perfect for first dates or a lowkey Friday night with friends alongside some snacks like ham tartines and chicken liver mousse. It doubles as a bottle shop with a massive selection, and you can choose anything for the staff to uncork for you just as long as you commit to drinking two glasses.
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 when 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 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.