I love wine bars, but not for the reasons you might think. Many years ago, I was living in San Francisco. Like most people residing in that area, the monthly rent drained my bank account. I had just graduated with an art degree and was working in galleries, but extra income was a must, so I applied for a job at a wine bar. During the interview process the owner asked me a few questions, to gauge my knowledge on wine, such as: “What is the grape used to make Chianti?”—to which I gave a grossly incorrect answer. Somehow (must have been my sparkling personality) I landed a job behind the bar pouring wine. The owner took a chance on a girl who didn’t know the difference between Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon—and the job changed the direction of my life. I have a certain nostalgic draw towards the wine bar because of that experience, and Oregon is swimming in them. Some are casual, raw and gritty; some are contemporary and modern, while others are plush and comfy. Here are few of Oregon’s stand-outs. Portland The Hop and Vine 1914 North Killingsworth St. / 503.954.3322 / www.thehopandvine.com Cozy | Distinctive | Charming When I first moved to Portland, I was lucky enough to live around the corner from a wine bar. I hadn’t even unpacked my U-Haul yet, but after an 1,800-mile drive with a weighed down Subaru and a fidgety 90 pound dog in my front seat, I needed a drink. To the wine bar I went. I sat down and to my pleasure saw that they had one of my personal favorites available by the glass, Cabernet Franc. Upon looking through their beer selection I found another gem, Boulevard Beer—the brew of my hometown, Kansas City, and the place of my recent tearful goodbye. I felt like The Hop and Vine was giving me a big hug. Since that day, they have opened a bottle shop next door where hand-crafted beers and a well-appointed wine selection are at your fingertips. They also have full bar of spirits and creative libations for every type of adult beverage enthusiast.
Bend portello winecafe 2754 Northwest Crossing Drive / 541.385.1777 / www.portellowinecafe.com Urban | Fun | Friendly Portello winecafe has been a favorite amongst Bend’s wine loving community for almost six years, serving lunch and dinner alongside over 27 wines by the glass, and a beer selection featuring Oregon brewers as well as other national and international microbrews. On Mondays from 4-9 pm, and Wednesday through Saturdays from 11:30-4:00 pm, ALL wines by the glass are only $5. Live music on Saturdays starts at 7pm. Wines are also on display for retail sale. “We were really inspired by the combination of creating a European style neighborhood wine cafe so folks can walk or ride bikes. We have a passion for fresh food choices and handcrafted wine selections and the feel of an urban, yet casual atmosphere,” said Lance Newman, co-owner of portello. They have achieved just that. Beaverton Vinotopia Wine Restaurant and Wine Bar 12345 SW Horizon Blvd, Suite 231 / 503.597.6900 / www.cinetopia.com Welcoming | Innovative | Entertaining
Taking dinner and a movie to new heights, Vinotopia, located at the Cinetopia center in Progress Ridge, has one of my favorite by-the-glass programs in the state. Lead by wine director extraordinaire, Kim Oshiro, Vinotopia boasts over 58 wines by the glass. Each glass pour is available to enjoy at the bar, restaurant OR, best yet, in the movie theater. If you ask me, this is the best way to watch a movie—and it sure beats sneaking a bottle of wine into a movie theater (not that I have ever done that). One wine that Oshiro is really excited about right now? “The 2009 Domaine Comte Abbatucci ‘Faustine’ from Ajaccio, Corsica, France. This wine makes me homesick for a place that I have never been.” Looking for a little education to go with your movie? Wine 101 classes are taught on the first Tuesday of every month by Oshiro for $30.
Ashland Liquid Assets Wine Bar 96 North Main Street / 541.482.9463 / www.liquidassetswinebar.com
Elegant | Comfortable | Classy
Offering more than 20 wines by the glass, a “seasonal French-inspired” menu and beers on Tap, Liquid Assets is Ashland’s hot spot for wine lovers since 2006. Husband and wife owners Jim Piotter and Denise Daehler-Piotter both bring to the table several years of restaurant experience and education. Their objective is to maintain an interesting selection of handcrafted wines from Oregon along with an international selection—with over 250 wines available for retail purchase. They open at 3 every day and offer wifi; it’s the perfect place to get some work done, if you ask me. They offer live music, tastings and classes. As members of the Ashland Gallery Association, the owners rotate the art that adorns the wine bar walls bi-monthly—highlighting the work of local and internationally acclaimed artists.
White Buffalo Wine Bar
4040 Westcliff Drive / 541.386.5534 / www.whitebuffalowines.com
Hidden gem | Homey | Quaint
In 2005, Sarah Gumm and her mother, Mary Gumm, came up with a plan to turn an old ARCO gas station in Hood River into a fun and inviting wine bar. Their plan came to fruition in 2008 when White Buffalo Wine Bar opened its doors. Sourcing fresh and local ingredients, the Gumms have created a menu to stand alongside her 250 wine selections (10 by the glass)—which are all also available for retail sale. Thursday nights they offer free wine tasting for a chance to “try before you buy,” absorb a little wine knowledge and have some fun in the process.
Eugene B² Wine Bar 2794 Shadow View / 541.505.8909 / www.b2winebar.com Chill | Sheik | Romantic B2 is located in Eugene’s Crescent Village and offers 30 wines by the glass, anther 30 by the bottle and a full bar with plenty of beer options, from micro to not-so-micro. Executive Chef Garrett Kirsch executes a menu of Northwest cuisine that complements their wine selection. Kirsch’s personal favorite wine to pair with her provisions? “It’s summertime so our b2 Pinot Gris 2009.”
1015 NW Everett Street, Portland
Daniel Shoemaker, owner
Sake Sangria 8 quart batch | Serves 4 4 cups Momokawa Diamond sake 1 cup Oregon Pinot gris 1/3 cup cane sugar 4 ounces brandy 1 1/2 ounces lemon juice 1 1/2 ounces orange juice 1 ounce lime juice 1 pint Oregon blackberries 3 peaches, sliced Spice bag: Lay one Indonesian cinnamon stick, one crushed nutmeg berry, one star anise, four cloves, two green cardamom pods on a cheesecloth. Gather all ends, tied with kitchen string. Place all ingredients in a medium non-reactive container with a lid. Refrigerate for twenty-four hours. Serve.
With Memorial Day behind us, grilling season has officially begun. With Fourth of July—arguably the biggest barbecuing day of the year—just a few weeks away, here are my tips for preparing the grill and getting into the barbecuing mindset.
Clean the grill. With a stiff wire brush, scrape hardened food off your grates. Wash them with warm, soapy water. Scrape down the sides of your grill with a spatula. Change the grease pan. Make sure your propane tank is full or you have a fresh stock of briquettes.
Just like produce, use good quality, in-season meat and seafood.
General guidelines for fresh, pastured meat and wild-caught seafood:
Summer—chicken, pork, halibut, shrimp, salmon
Fall—tuna, turkey, salmon, shrimp
Season with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and olive oil at least an hour in advance for meats, and 30 minutes in advance for seafood.
Pull your meat out of the fridge at least 20 minutes prior grilling to take the chill off and ensure even grilling.
Always start fish flesh side down. Do not flip until 2/3 through cooking time. When finished, slip a spatula between skin and flesh. Fish will slide right off the skin and on to your platter.
Take your meat and seafood off the grill just before they are completely cooked. Let them rest for a bit before serving. They will finish cooking off the grill and the juices will have a chance to redistribute.
Keep your side dishes “summer simple.” Thick-sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt. Baby greens tossed with Dijon vinaigrette. Thick slices of Pugliese bread served with softened goat cheese. Vanilla ice cream with berries.
First up on my list to grill is a fillet of sockeye salmon, steamed artichokes on the side and strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert. I had better start scrubbing my grill. See you outside!
With Mothers Day just around the corner, I would like to informally suggest a new tradition in gift giving. Instead of the usual bouquet of flowers that wilt too quickly or a plant that needs loads of care, why not celebrate the wife, mother, grandmother, surrogate mother, mother-in-law or god-mother in your life with a bottle of rosé wine. Or, better yet, a bouquet of rosés.
In the late 1700s, locksmith—and hydraulic engineer—Joseph Bramah patented an invention called the beer engine, a device used for pumping beer out of a cask. Today we know this as the keg, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the pressurized beer keg was perfected, and thanks to the keg stands of the 1978 movie Animal House, became mainstream. Flash forward to today’s keg and you will find that the iconic barrel stands for libations other than just beer.
Oregon wineries such as Grochau Cellars, Crowley Wines and Stoller Vineyards have been working towards perfecting the craft of keg wines, mostly at the direct request of restaurants. More and more tap handles in dining establishments are dispensing not only frothy cold beer but red, white and pink wine.
It’s 4 a.m. The aroma of fresh bread comes from flaming ovens. Buttery croissants are rolled, cut and shaped by hand at Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Portland. An hour later, the sweet smell of fresh baguette dough wafts past four bakers in jeans, t-shirts and aprons, their heads down, their floured hands dividing and shaping smooth, long loaves. The oven door clanks as the bread goes in.