SEATTLE: Greenlake Wines + Wine Bar

Editor's note: This location has closed since the original posting in Dec. 2010. Richard Kinssies now operates The Wine Outlet at 946 Elliott Ave. W., Seattle.

I love wine. I love talking about it, drinking it, learning more about it. So imagine my surprise when I found out this wonderful little wine bar is run by an old colleague from my radio days!

Greenlake Wines + Wine Bar is the creation of Richard Kinssies, former wine columnist for the now-defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Richard and I worked together in the late '80s when he hosted a talk show called "Inside Dining" on news-talk radio station KING-1090. (I was the voice who said, "Go ahead, caller. You're on the air!")

One recent evening, I made my way to Greenlake Wines to say hello, have some nibbles, and reminisce. Once the reminiscing was complete, talk turned to -- what else? -- wine.

Richard's knowledge of wine is encyclopedic, and it shows in the large selection of wines on sale by the bottle and by the glass. But please, don't be intimidated. He's a great host, easy to talk to, and will tell you as much (or as little) as you want to know.

Of course, he has some higher-end offerings (both by the glass and by the bottle), but I was pleasantly surprised by the plentiful selection of some very good wines in the $10 - $15 per bottle price range. And Richard does not charge a corkage fee, so if you decide you just can't wait to get home to enjoy your purchase, pull up a chair or a bar stool and enjoy a glass right there.

My sipping started with a glass of 2009 "Duet," a blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc from the Plaza Winery in the Yakima Valley. The mild sweetness of the toasted spiced pecans from the bar menu was the perfect accompaniment to this slightly sweet white.

Next, I tried a 2007 Richard Kinssies Tempranillo from the Yakima Valley's Crawford Vineyard (yes, his name in on the label!). Very smooth, medium-bodied, and well-priced. At $15, I had to bring a bottle home.

Feeling the need for something more to eat, I ordered a Cremini Panini, a sandwich layered with cremini mushrooms and brie cheese, then toasted on the panini press. The flavor of the gooey brie and the earthiness of the mushrooms were a perfect accompaniment to the 2007 Chateau De Valcombe Syrah/Grenache blend from France's Rhone Valley. Slightly fuller than the Tempranillo, is was no less smooth and the perfect way to cap off the evening. At $12 per bottle, it had to come home too.

Greenlake Wines + Wine Bar is located at the intersection of N. 80th St., Interlake Ave. N., and Green Lake Way N. It opens at noon, seven days a week, and Richard is generally there in the evenings. Tell him Carl sent you!

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