Looking for a great wine tasting experience but not sure where to go? Look no farther than our neighborhood.
Claret, a new wine bar by the Heavy Restaurant Group, is here to make tipple time more exciting. Located at 3400 Stone Way N, the bar is cozy and inviting. Claret has a lot of gorgeous, natural light pouring in during the day. My husband and I went for a leisurely dinner and saw the bright restaurant change into a candlelit, intimate affair at night.
A fun thing is that the bar does half-pours, which means you can sample a lot more wine. Also, you can drink two glasses at the same time – the servers encourage you to try wines from different regions in the world that are made from the same grape varietal. Wine tasting can come across as a bit intimidating if you’re a novice, but at Claret, you’re encouraged to sit back, relax and sip through the wines. The most important thing, our steward Tristan told us, was to simply enjoy and savor and wine.
The wine stewards guide you through the tastings, which could get confusing given the sheer variety. You could try a local wine from Columbia Valley of Washington, a glass of bubbly from its namesake region Champagne in north-eastern France. The bar is split up between regional wines and wines from far-off, exotic climes. There is every color in the wine spectrum – from honey-colored chardonnays to blushing rosés to deep violet-red pinot noirs.
Claret doesn’t just offer a mind-boggling variety of wines but also aims to generate conversation about wine in general. The staff is both passionate and knowledgeable. If you are as inquisitive as I am, this is a good place to know your vino better. They’ll tell you about the age of the wine, help you decipher the complex flavors when you sniff, and even teach you how to swirl your glass the right way (Yes, there is a right way!) While you sip on the wines, there are oodles of cheese, charcuterie and starters you can nosh on. The restaurant thoughtfully focuses on food and drinks pairings in the menu itself, so you can spend more time savoring the vino itself. We started off with some Simme bleu (a cow’s milk cheese) salted sourdough and crisp apples.
The mains are few, but the food is hearty. We tried the braised chicken with bacon and the tomato gnocchi, and the recommended wine pairings for both. The buttery, melt-in-your-mouth homemade gnocchi was homemade, and was paired with a glass of Château de Montfaucon Viognier, a refreshing white wine from Vin de Pays in France. The chicken was delicious too and came with Château la Croix du Duc Rouge, an intense red from Bordeaux in France. While I loved the chicken, the wine was a bit too astringent for me.
Claret also does a brunch on weekends, with egg dishes, granolas and of course, prosecco. You can also order in brunch from its sister restaurant, Thackeray, which Claret shares a wall with. They do happy hour from 4 pm- 6 pm, from Monday to Friday. What is great is that Claret is not a snobbish or stuffy place, as I’ve discovered a lot of wine bars to be. It is a nice place for a special date or with friends for a nice evening, albeit a bit pricey. It makes a strong case for the art of slow living. And given Seattle’s frenetic pace, this is a very good thing.