by Camela Thompson
I’m not a big wine person. My husband and I are more likely to have hard cider with dinner than a glass of merlot. We don’t research wine and are just as likely to pick up an orally offensive bottle as a hidden gem. Intimidation aside, the main reason we avoid wine is because we are beer people. But there are times a bottle of wine sounds good, and a perk of living close to Woodinville is easy accessibility to tasting rooms. Tasting is a fun group activity, and it’s a way to test drive the wine before making a purchase.
There are two main areas in Woodinville to taste wine. A number of wineries have estates along 145th. For those of you who want gorgeous grounds and beautiful ambience with your wine, visit the estates and shop fronts. They offer the full tourist experience. If you just want to sample a ton of wine or are short on time, go to the Warehouse District.
My friend works at one of the wineries and invited me out for the first time this weekend. It was a blast. Dozens of wineries are packed in an industrial area. There are very few frills, and it’s obvious the main purpose for these shops is as a warehouse. A small tasting area is usually set up out front with a tiny bar and maybe two or three tables. The standard cost is $10 per tasting, and the amount of wine to sample varies from four to six bottles. Usually a purchase of one bottle to take home cancels the cost of a tasting.
Selfie or a check for the dreaded red wine mustache? You decide.
As you can imagine, it’s easy to get drunk quickly with so many wine tasting options. The food choices are extremely limited, so plan ahead and bring bottled water for when you are finished. I was complimented on my technique several times and a little proud of myself. I used the “proper” tasting method of only sampling a portion of the pour and dumping the rest. This got more difficult as the quality of wine went up. If the wine was really good, there was no way I was wasting it. The fourth winery (Matthews Cellars) had some really great wine. It was also the point we asked ourselves whether or not we should take a break.
We did not take a break.
Our little party continued on to Ambassador Winery for ladies’ night where we purchased a full glass and had snacks. I had a lot of snacks to go with a lovely 2011 Syrah. Then the hostess reminded our friend that she had a discount because she worked there and we should get a bottle. Once again, we asked ourselves whether or not we should stop and drink water or forge onward.
Onward! Oh, and stop live tweeting. I banned myself from social media.
A bottle of Grenache it was! I cut myself off a few sips into glass two (thank God). It was great. I think. By that time my palate was the drunk girl at the party dancing on a table. Anything would have tasted fabulous. But I’ve been told that the Ambassador 2011 Estate Grenache is fabulous by more than one knowledgeable wine snob. I just wish I could remember it a little better.
Our designated driver moved our party to Preservation Kitchen. I had the seafood stew and was amazed. Drunken taste buds were dazzled. It’s frankly a blur, and by the time we left I had the spins. I entertained Lance with stories, sobered up, watched thirty minutes of a movie, and fell asleep on my couch. I woke up and guzzled a couple pints of water.
Sunday’s light headache reprimanded me. I was prideful and for no good reason. My self control is laughable. However, I did have a great time. The wine was good. The company was better. The best time I had all afternoon was when one of the hospitality servers started hazing people. The wine was okay (one bottle-a limited edition Cabernet Sauvignon-was exceptional), but the entertainment will always be remembered. It goes to show that a little personality goes a long way. Next time family is in town we’ll have an excuse to go back and I’m already looking forward to it. We'll just take that last bottle of wine home for another night.
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.