As beloved as the oyster-cracker-and-wine-flight combo is, wine tasting spaces are thinking outside of the box these days. If you’ve been looking for a curated tasting experience, it turns out you’re not as high-maintenance as you thought (we were never judging you). Whether your inner cheesemonger geeks out on the butteriest brie, or you envision yourself in exposed brick bliss pondering modern art glass in hand, there’s a wine spot out there waiting to feed you grapes. Liquid grapes, that is.
Stay All Day: Vif Wine|Coffee || Seattle
Seattle is notorious for locally owned gems where you’re served coffee in an actual mug topped with foamy art and an invitation to plug in your laptop and stay awhile. At Vif in the Emerald City’s Fremont neighborhood, get serious about staying awhile, because the experience is a prelude to wine. Start with espresso from Olympia Coffee Roasting Co., then peruse the menu of natural wines. They also offer full meals or a happy hour-like “snackette,” since coffee and wine lovers alike recognize the importance of solid sustenance. Basically, you never have to leave.
French Connection: Pix Patisserie || Portland
Macarons are having a moment, and you can have a dozen of ‘em at Pix Patisserie in Portland. Cassis violet and sherry almond are tempting enough alone, but we suggest pairing with bubbly in true French fashion, considering Pix’s Champagne and sparkling wine list was voted world’s best for four consecutive years by The World of Fine Wine. If macarons aren’t your thing, the bakery also whips out eclairs, some of the most ornate desserts you’ll ever see, and homemade chocolates filled with booze. Let that be your excuse to indulge.
Sweet Tunes: Arrivederci Wine & Jazz || Milwaukie, OR
Get your jazz hands ready (or at least the one not holding the vino) and head to Arrivederci for a classy night of wine and tunes. The intimate venue and restaurant began solely as a small wine shop over a decade ago, but the goal remains the same – to bring together quality food, wine, music and friendships. Enjoy live shows most nights of the week alongside a full dinner menu and extensive high-end wine list.
Cheese, Please: Upper Bench Winery & Creamery || Penticton, BC
Below the mountains and overlooking Okanagan Lake lies the Naramata Bench and its community of cliffside wineries. Nestled in this sweet spot, producing terroir-driven wines including Carte Blanche, Zweigelt and Cab Franc, is Upper Bench Winery & Creamery. Yes, you read that right – they’re also a creamery. Stop by the tasting room in Penticton to pair wines with handcrafted, washed-rind brie and blue cheeses crafted from 100 percent pasteurized Canadian cow’s milk.
Work of Art: Cerulean Tasting Room and Gallery || Portland
Sipping from an array of natural wines while admiring artwork along the walls of a restored, 100 year-old building in the heart of Portland’s Pearl District – does a higher level of sophistication exist? The estate collection comes from Cerulean’s certified organic Columbia Gorge vineyard and includes Tempranillo, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay among others, and the gallery showcases artists from Portland and the surrounding region. In warm weather, pop outside and enjoy your pour on the patio, people-watching style.