The Best Places to Drink Wine in Seattle

If you’re heading to Seattle in search of a good bottle of wine, don’t expect the density of New York, the foodie bloodsport of San Francisco or the quaintness of Portland. Seattleites are a pragmatic bunch. As with any city close to a winegrowing region, the relationship between Seattle restaurants and Washington wine country (two to four hours across the Cascades) is well-cemented, but keep in mind that the first real commercial vineyards only went in the ground in the early 1970s. The industry is still a bit too young to foster a “New Washington Wine” movement. Yet. After Washington merlot was sabotaged by Sideways in the early aughts, the industry has turned towards Rhône varieties—in particular syrah—with great success. And as the wines continue to prove Washington’s singularity within the larger context of West Coast viticulture, so too does Seattle’s wine scene. –Morgan Harris

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    Boat Street Café

    Boat Street Café is the original outpost of Seattle’s most exciting homegrown chef and restaurateur, Renee Erickson (of The Walrus and the Carpenter and The Whale Wins). There’s a full menu of Mediterranean-inspired plates that borrow most heavily from Provençal cooking traditions, with glimmers of Moroccan and Spanish influence. The wine list, however, reads primarily like a who’s who of small, artisanal French wine producers and regions—all priced very, very reasonably. No first growth Bordeaux or fancy Burgundy here—just delicious and diverse table wines. The list also includes a smattering of small Northwest ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • full menu
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    Bottlehouse

    The new kid on the block, Bottlehouse, is a riff on a Parisian cave au manger—or a mash-up of a retail bottle shop and a wine bar. Either pick a bottle from their well-curated shelf and take it back to your AirBnB, or, for a nominal markup, hang out and enjoy it with some cheese and charcuterie. It’s an unpretentious, everyday place to enjoy wines from Europe and the Pacific Northwest, offered alongside a smart collection of beers and ciders from Seattle's backyard.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • French wine
    • craft beer
    • low wine markups
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    Canlis

    Canlis is the iconic Seattle restaurant. As an enduring beacon for fine dining in the city, the restaurant has, unsurprisingly, made a huge investment in the wine program—which, at nearly 90 pages, is the most comprehensive in Seattle. Along with all of the Burgundy, Bordeaux and Northern Italian blue-chip wines you’d expect in a restaurant like this, there’s a serious commitment to aged German riesling, grower champagne and, of course, one of deepest lists of Washington wine. If you're not a wine drinker, the well-considered cocktail and beer programs are also worth the trip. And don’t worry about getting too dressed ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • vintage wine
    • champagne
    • historic
    • full menu
    • fine dining
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    Le Caviste

    Le Caviste is the destination for hipster French wine in Seattle, served alongside food that draws inspiration from rural France. A self-described bistrot-à-vins, the focus here is on small, artisanal wine producers from France, with a particular focus on Beaujolais. To pair, there’s the prerequisite combination of charcuterie and cheese, but the menu features a number of fantastic larger plates as well.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • full menu
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    Purple Café

    Part of the local-sustainable American cooking wave, the downtown Seattle branch of Purple Café has one of the most education-forward lists in Seattle. Every section is highlighted with a short preamble explaining what you can expect from the category of wine represented. And at upwards of 60 pages long, the list traverses a lot of ground—from the fortified wines of Jerez and Madeira to Champagne.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • French wine
    • Spanish wine
    • Italian wine
    • full menu
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    RN 74 Seattle

    RN74 Seattle is the northern outpost of the original RN74 San Francisco, the brainchildren of wunder-sommelier Rajat Parr and collector Wilf Jaeger. While the list here is not as expansive as the mother ship to the south, it’s still littered with back-vintage gems at reasonable prices. The collection has a principle focus on Burgundy—and pinot noir in general—but spans most of the new and old world, with particularly thoughtful choices from Washington’s classic and new producers, as well as an equally considered list of champagnes. As one of the few wine-focused establishments open late(ish), this is a great place to ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • vintage wine
    • champagne
    • bar food
    • full menu
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    Sitka + Spruce

    Housed in a charming former industrial building in the hip Capitol Hill neighborhood, Sitka & Spruce presents the egalitarian Northwest aesthetic in restaurant form. Using (mostly) local ingredients with an Italo-French bent to the preparations, Sitka and Spruce’s cooking seems to have an everywhere-ness about it. The wine list’s ethos is similar. At a trim, 80 or so selections, the list features from benchmark producers around the world, from Thierry Allemand and Quintarelli to Domaine de la Pépière and traverses a range of price points.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • French wine
    • Italian wine
    • full menu
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    The Metropolitan Grill

    If you want to eat steak and drink big red wine in Seattle, this is the place. The list is stacked with Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône, California, Spain, Piedmont, Tuscany and Australia, along with a legion of champagnes to wash them down. Refreshingly, all of your slick, waiting-list-only producers are here next to sommelier darlings like Allemand, Heitz, López de Heredia and Produttori del Barbaresco.   What to drink: Something with a lot of tannin for that Porterhouse. The Rhône red section is always a good bet.   Known for: full menu, vintage wine, champagne   Pro-tip: Order some oysters to take ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • champagne
    • vintage wine
    • full menu
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    Wild Ginger

    A Seattle institution, the cuisine at Wild Ginger is unapologetic Asian fusion—an inclusive culinary approach that mirrors the internationalism and laid-back melting pot atmosphere that pervades Seattle. The wine list is 21 pages long and among the most diverse in the city, with a particular focus on riesling.   What to drink: Riesling, because riesling and Asian food.   Known for: full menu   Pro-tip: Make a night of it and plan to take in a concert at the Triple Door downstairs before or after your dinner.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • German / Austrian wine
    • full menu
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