Like many of life's greatest pleasures, the formula is simple: When at home on the weekend, my partner and I stop what we're doing late Saturday afternoon and take time out to enjoy a glass of wine.
This usually involves going out to some place in Bellingham ... sometimes to meet friends, sometimes to enjoy a nosh, but always just to relax and reward ourselves for completing another work week and perhaps a list of Saturday morning chores.
A venue with a good wine list is always a consideration. We look for variety, adequate wine-by-the-glass options, and the opportunity to choose from several Washington wines. Two of our favorite places, Keenan's at the Pier and The Fork at Agate Bay, never fail to keep us happy.
Keenan's has greatly improved in the Washington wine department since its fairly recent makeover from Fino Wine Bar at the Chrysalis Inn & Spa. Maybe it was just me, but the atmosphere at Fino seemed stuffy, the staff seldom cracked a smile, and the wine list, although extensive, only had one selection each from Washington and California.
We live in one of the best wine-producing regions in the world. To see Washington so underrepresented was a disappointing and annoying snub. But Keenan's has expanded its wine list to include a number of solid Washington wines, in addition to a nice variety of choices from Europe, Australia, California and Oregon.
Boomtown, Three Rivers, Dunham and Airfield Estates are just a few of the Washington wineries on the list. There are currently 20 wines by the glass, ranging from $7 to $13, and bottle prices are quite reasonable, with plenty of choices from $20 to $30.
If you lean toward sparkling wine, Keenan's selection offers a small but impressive list as well. Three personal favorites, J Vineyards and Roederer Estate from California and Tattinger from Champagne are currently available.
At The Fork at Agate Bay, the Washington wine alternatives are even more impressive. Maison Bleue, Alexandria Nicole, J Bookwalter, and Dusted Valley Vintners are among the Washington winery choices. Again, you'll find lots of $20- to $30-a-bottle options, and glasses are in the nicely priced range of $6 to $9.
My "go to" wine at The Fork is the Brian Carter Cellars Oriana. This tasty, viognier-based white wine blend is perfect for sipping, perhaps on the restaurant patio when warmer weather prevails.
Some people might quibble that The Fork is too far from Bellingham. Really? Just think of the terrific wine list waiting for you at this gem of a restaurant on the east side of Lake Whatcom. That should be incentive enough to lure you away from home any Saturday afternoon.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.