Wine

I grew up thinking wine was sour swill that populated gallon jugs, which my dad would pour in a jam jar, add three ice cubes to, and sip leisurely after work in front of the telly. In college, wine was more expensive and packed less of a punch than a plastic liter of Popov, so I paid it no heed. Then someone introduced me to “wine country,” a beautiful land where wine makers opened their tasting rooms and vineyards to wine lovers and philistines alike, sharing their elegantly bottled wares, explaining mysteries like terroir and nose and bouquet and presenting the spit vs swallow debate in a whole new light. I started wandering around wine shops and hanging out in laid back little wine bars, seeking wine-lightenment. So, to assist with our continuing education, here are my top places in town to sip, swirl, sniff, and purchase your favorite and soon-to-be-favorite wines, and a handy map to help you find them.

Wine Bars

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Ambonnay

A tiny bubble-sized space in Buckman’s hip Olympic Mills Building, this bar is all about the champagne, with more than 50 champagnes and sparkling wines by the bottle and a half dozen diverse glass pours.

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Angel Face

A sultry French mistress for neighboring Navarre restaurant, this beautiful little bar captivates with hand-painted walls, divine wine, an invisible cocktail list, and delicate bar bites like the unforgettable egg meurette.

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Bar Avignon

With two industry experts at the helm (co-owner Randy Goodman was once Wildwood‘s wine director), it’s no surprise that this swanky but comfortable Division Street hangout’s wine list is superb.

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Bin 21

Here’s the plan: Before dinner at neighboring Bollywood Theater, pop into this fun little Alberta wine bar for a glass of rosé (on tap!), and a happy hour cheese board. After dinner, return for the caramelized peach tarte Tatin.

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Coppia

This elegant, gallery-like Piedmontese-influenced Pearl District restaurant and wine bar has a very calming effect on the soul, particularly once the soul has absorbed a bottle of very good wine and a cheese plate.

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Corkscrew

This funky Sellwood wine bar is a fun spot at which to share a bottle of wine with someone worth sharing your wine with, and especially with someone worth sharing the red velvet sofa under the stairs with.

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Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery

Clay Pigeon Winery winemaker Michael Claypool and author/former affineur Sasha Davies preside deliciously over their respective passions at this glamorously rustic Buckman urban winery, wine bar and cheese shop.

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Enso

Urban wineries are all the rage these days, and this relaxed Buckman purveyor of Malbec and Mourvédre is a prime specimen, opening up its beautiful tasting room and wine lounge nightly so the hip can sip within.

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Evoe

Even the deviled eggs are a revelation at this brilliant little wine bar inside the Hawthorne Pastaworks, where you can choose your wine from the succinct wall menu or pick any bottle from the store case for a $5 corkage.

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M Bar

Winner of the Jen’s Favorite PDX Bar award, this cork-sized Alphabet District hideout has a succinct but thought-ful wine list, and the fact that you’re practically sitting on your neighbor’s lap makes for interesting random meetups.

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Noble Rot

At this upscale crow’s nest of a bar and restaurant, your wine comes with a free view, and what a view it is—a panoramic perspective of downtown Portland, the Willamette, the West Hills, and Union Jack’s.

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Oregon Wines on Broadway

Although conveniently positioned right on Broadway, this cheery wine bar seems a world away from the downtown hustle. They specialize in Oregon Pinot, but I go for the bubbly myself, there’s always something fun in the cooler.

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Southeast Wine Collective

Since the only thing better than a one-winery tasting room is a four-winery tasting room, Vincent Wine Co., Bow & Arrow, Helioterra and Division Winemaking Co. combined fermented forces to open this stylish Richmond lounge.

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Southpark

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, take Petula Clark’s advice and go downtown…to this Parisian-style wine bar, where you can meet new friends over a bottle of wine and a dozen oysters on the half shell.

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Taste on 23rd

Serious wines and serious food pair seamlessly at this elegant NW 23rd Avenue wine bar, where wines are organized by “crisp, juicy, or luscious” vs merely “white or red,” and free tastings are held every Friday afternoon.

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The Hop & Vine

Mismatched furniture and a relaxed demeanor make this North Portland bar (with adjoining bottleshop) an ideal spot to savor a warming red in the winter, and come sum-mer, to sip a crisp white in the charmingly tousled garden.

Wine Shops

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Barrique Barrel

Just one more thing to love about scrappy St. Johns–this carefully-curated wine, beer and cider shop, with affordable price tags and fun tastings that reflect the laid back neighborhood.

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Beaumont Market

This unassuming Northeast Portland market has earned a serious reputation for their liquid assets portfolio, from hard-t0-get nostalgic sodas to the hundreds of beers and wines they stock. Plus, they’re kindly open 17 hours a day.

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Blackbird Wine Shop

If you’re stranded in Beaumont without so much as a morsel of Manchego or drop of Mourvedre, pop into this stylishly cozy wine shop and its “Atomic” cheese counter, especially if it’s happy hour.

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City Market

Walking into City Market, I feel like I’ve plunged headlong into the finest pantry imaginable, the one that makes me want to be a billionaire so fricking bad, as the song goes, so I can buy all the aged balsamics and Bordeaux I never had.

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Cork Bottle Shop

Just the champagne-filled vintage bathtub alone is captivating enough, but this Alberta wine shop also has a soft spot for rosé, weekly tastings, winemaker appearances and fun special events, AND a wall of chocolate.

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CorksCru

Wine whisperer Dan Beekley has way too much fun compiling and naming his wares–e.g., the Pink Don’t Stink and Haul From Gaul 6-packs, Dating Game wine club, and reds categorized by Exuberant, Mellow or Brawny.

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Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery

Clay Pigeon Winery winemaker Michael Claypool and author/former affineur Sasha Davies preside deliciously over their respective passions at this glamorously rustic Buckman urban winery, wine bar and cheese shop.

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Division Wines

A lovely, light-filled space with plenty of affordable wines and some of the friendliest service around, this Division Street wine shop always seems to have a little something open for you to taste.

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E & R Wine Shop

Known for their vast selection and expert assistance, this Southwest Portland shop’s a favorite among local wine savants. They’re always hosting free tastings, so subscribe to their newsletter to stay in the loop.

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Foster & Dobbs

If you’ve had a hard day at work, unwined at this Irvington specialty market and deli, where you can chase all your troubles and cares away with one of their fantastic DIY cheese plates and a glass of wine, er, make that a bottle.

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Great Wine Buys

This cheeky Irvington wine shop has many virtues, like a vast selection and fun weekly tastings, but perhaps para-mount is the Park & Pick-up service–call ahead and order, park at Plaid Pantry, and they’ll bring your wine to you.

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John’s Market

“Portland’s Best Selection of Beers…and Six Bazillion Wines” is this Multnomah Village market’s claim to fame, and with 800 bottled beers, 400 wines & a frat-boy-jaw-dropping keg selection, who’s arguing?

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Lilac Wine

Deep in North Portland, wandering around the outskirts of Kenton, I hardly expected to stumble upon this sweet little wine shop, but here it is, and the wines are affordable, the owner is knowledgeable, and the Saturday tastings are free.

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Liner & Elsen

Tucked away in a mini-mall just off NW 23rd Avenue, this scholarly shop has relaxed, hands-off staff that are happy to let you browse at your leisure, or step in when you need just the right suggestion for your dinner party.

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Martinotti’s Cafe & Deli

At first glance, this long-standing downtown Italian deli’s hodgepodge of foodstuffs and fine wines can seem overwhelming, but there’s a certain comfort to be found in the cozy (and very well-curated) clutter.

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Mt. Tabor Fine Wines

No need to overthink anything you buy at this excellent little Hawthorne wine shop, it’s all good. Plenty of Oregon Pinots join wines from all over the world, and you can also score hard to find wines from the owner’s own cellar.

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Oregon Wines on Broadway

Although conveniently positioned right on Broadway, this cheery wine bar seems a world away from the downtown hustle. They specialize in Oregon Pinot, but I go for the bubbly myself, there’s always something fun in the cooler.

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Pastaworks Hawthorne

An edible oasis in the midst of Hawthorne’s funky retail chaos, this well-stocked specialty market has a superb selection of gorgeous European wines, and the cheeses, charcuterie, breads and chocolates that love them.

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Portland Wine Merchants

How can you resist weekend tastings billed as “free and exciting?” You can’t, which is why you should explore this quiet Hawthorne wine shop weekend days from noon to 5pm. Visits on other days are exciting too, just not as free.

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Storyteller Wine Company

Besides penning one of the most educational and entertaining wine newsletters in town, this excellent John’s Landing shop’s erudite owner Michael Alberty hosts some fantastic tastings, many of which are free.

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The Hop & Vine

Mismatched furniture and a relaxed demeanor make this North Portland bar (with adjoining bottleshop) an ideal spot to savor a warming red in the winter, and come sum-mer, to sip a crisp white in the charmingly tousled garden.

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The Meadow

This North Mississippi specialty shop is a wonderful place filled with flowers, chocolate, books, a rather astonishing selection of artisan salts, fine wines and champagnes…so basically, all life’s bare essentials.

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Vino

If you’ve got $10 burning a hole in your pocket come Friday, stop by this easy-going Kerns wine shop from 4:30-8pm for the Friday Night Flights tasting. On weekends, pop in for free tastings, or savor a bottle on the big breezy patio.

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Vinopolis

It’s easy to get the sensation that you’re lost in some super collector’s cellar when wandering through this roomy downtown wine shop, and don’t be surprised when you finally emerge a dozen bottles and a few hours later.

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Woodstock Wine & Deli

This laid-back family-owned Woodstock wine bar/market will meet your basic wine, beer and cheese needs, they’ve got a daily happy hour, and you can’t help but love all the champagne magnums scattered about.