Seattle's Pike Place Market is the perfect place to meet your local producer, buy everything from a bouquet to a beefsteak and watch silvery salmon glide through the air with the greatest of ease.
But who knew it's also a great place to taste wine?
Close to a dozen tasting venues in and around the Market are just waiting for the estimated 10 million locals and tourists who visit annually to sip, swirl and savor.
The venerable Pike & Western Wine Shop, open since 1975, is in the north end of the Market at the corner of Virginia Street and Pike Place.
"We've been doing some form of tasting for as long as it has been legal in Washington," said proprietor/owner Michael Teer. "We certainly aren't as regular (in offering tastings) as places like The Tasting Room. But I think, overall, we can stake the claim of being the 'granddaddy' of wine in the Market."
Pike & Western samples Northwest and global wines from 3 to 6 p.m. every Friday, free of charge. For more info, go to pikeandwestern.com.
Not far away in an atmospheric space along Post Alley, The Tasting Room: Wines of Washington (TTR) was our state's first wine cooperative dedicated entirely to Washington wines when it opened in 2004. TTR features wines from seven boutique, winemaker-owned producers, including Harlequin, Camaraderie Cellars and Wilridge Winery.
Open every day (noon to 8 p.m. on weekdays; later hours on weekends), TTR serves wine pours ranging from one ounce to full bottles, wine flights and finger foods for nibbling. Go to winesofwashington.com.
From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, La Buona Tavola, a small, Italian-inspired shop on the main drag along Pike Place, offers up three wine samples for $5. Owner and "Trufflequeen" Rei Hanscomb sources from small-production, family-owned wineries in Washington, Italy and Spain. Go to trufflecafe.com.
On First Avenue from 2 to 4 p.m. every Saturday, tastings at DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine feature "everything across the board, from a region to a producer, or just something we feel like pouring," said manager/buyer Stephen Guy Spencer. Go to delaurenti.com
A short walk or easy elevator ride down from the Market, two dedicated tasting rooms have sprung up along Western Avenue within the past six months.
In late January, winemaker John Patterson, who has produced wine the past 12 years in Woodinville, Wash., and also operates a tasting room there, opened Patterson Cellars. The sleek, 1,800-square-foot facility boasts a contemporary, modern-industrial vibe. Every day in the upstairs tasting bar fronting Western Avenue, you can taste two wines for free or five for $3. An art-filled event space with outside seating faces the Pike Street Hill Climb. Go to pattersoncellars.com
Just across the street on Western Avenue, you'll find Pike Place Market Cellar Winery, open since May. Randy Finley, owner/winemaker at Mount Baker Vineyards & Winery near Bellingham since 1989, partnered with longtime Market Cellars Winery owner John Farias, who will continue to make wine and sell wine- and beer-making supplies next door. Open on weekends, with samples of five wines offered for $5, this thoughtfully remodeled space serves as an inviting Seattle presence for Finley and his wide array of wines. Go to mountbakervineyards.com
Other wine-centric venues in the Market neighborhood include TASTE Restaurant in the Seattle Art Museum. TASTE offers only Northwest wines on its list -- close to 70 -- available in everything from a taste to a bottle. Go to tastesam.com
ART Restaurant and Lounge in the Four Seasons Hotel showcases a good number of Washington and Oregon wines available in three-ounce tastes, full glasses and by the bottle. Go to artrestaurantseattle.com
Also at the Four Seasons Hotel, the stylish Fonte Cafe & Wine Bar offers creative Northwest wine flights, wines by the glass or bottle and twice-monthly wine tastings. Check out fontecoffee.com/cafe_winebar.html
Finally, the eponymous 106 Pine serves a wide selection of Northwest wines by the taste, glass, wine flight or bottle. It's also the departure point for the Urban Wine Tour. Go to 106pine.com
All of which makes the Pike Place Market the perfect place for wine lovers.
Braiden Rex-Johnson is a Seattle-based cookbook author, food-and-wine columnist and blogger. Visit her online at www.WithBraiden.com.
This story was originally published June 15, 2011 12:00 AM.