Starbucks has put the “bar” in barista with its foray into the world of wine as it looks to lure in customers in the evenings. The coffee giant began the experiment at one location in Seattle, and it looks to be a success as now locations from Portland to Atlanta serve beer and wine to the after-work crowd (the bar opens at 4 pm).
The Starbucks wine list resembles a wine bar more than a Denny’s, its mainstays being international favorites and crowd-pleasing quaffers such as Argentinian Alamos Malbec and a Louis M. Martini Cabernet, but there’s a pronounced local kick anywhere with a wine-growing region within a stone’s throw, especially in the Pacific Northwest. This can be seen in the availability of such wines as Erath Pinot Gris from Oregon’s Dundee Hills and Lange Estate Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Seattle and Portland, and even such regional distinctions as having Amavi Cellars Syrah from Walla Walla at the bar in Seattle, while Portland locations stock Bergevin Lane “She-Devil” Syrah from the Columbia Valley. Further down the I-5, LA locations offer up red blends from Paso Robles and Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara.
The food pairings are fresher than what we’ve been used to in Starbucks’ breakfast selection, from the usual every-list flatbreads to truffled mac & cheese and sweeter options such as cheesecake brownies and a pint-sized chocolate fondue.
Though there’s little resemblance to sleek, urbane wine bars or your local tavern – after all, there’s still caffeine to be schlocked the rest of the day – there’s something about pairing that Cab and those bacon-wrapped dates with that toasty warmth of the coffee shop fireplace as the rain pours down outside in the darkening Seattle streets.