Bigger definitely means better at the Harbor Square Wine Shop & Tasting Room on Bainbridge Island. This wine shop carries the biggest selection of large-format wines in Washington state. The large-format wines focus on some of the local Bainbridge Island wineries, as well as wines from around the state and a great selection of sparkling and other Old-World wines.
A magnum is the most common size of large-format wines — a double bottle of a normal-size 750-milliliter bottle of wine or 1.5 liters. Jeff Tweiten, owner and founder of the Vintage Wine Bar, says that these are the best bottles for aging.
“If you think about it, when you are saving a bottle of red wine for several years, you’re going to open it and drink it with friends for a special occasion,” he says. “If you’re waiting that long to drink something with so much potential, you’ll want to share it, and everyone will probably want more than a glass.”
You’ll only get about four or five glasses out of a standard-sized bottle, which makes the magnum bottle so much more appealing for aging and sharing.
After the magnum, the bottle sizes go up from there. The next biggest is a double magnum, which is exactly as it sounds, two magnums or four bottles of wine. Then there is the jeroboam (sometimes known as a rehoboam), a 4.5-liter bottle of wine or the equivalent of six standard bottles. If large is what you’re looking for, you’ll find it just up from the Bainbridge Island ferry on Winslow Way at the Harbor Square Wine Shop.
Tweiten opened the shop 11 years ago when some of the first wineries on the island were starting out and the wine scene was much quieter. The selection and offerings have grown to include not only wine, but beer and cider, making this local shop a great stop off the ferry to grab a bottle or six-pack.
With over 1,000 bottles of wine in the shop, you can pretty much find anything you want with vintages as old as the 1970s. A strong focus on wines from the Northwest, France and Italy is evident on the wine-tasting menu. There is a daily wine tasting, and the menu rotates monthly with new wines that will introduce you to many of the different Washington AVAs (American Viticulture Areas or distinct grape-growing regions).
The wine bar also features 12 different wines by the glass. The glass pours in this shop are higher quality (and from smaller producers) than you would normally find on a glass list because of a new, nitrogen-dispensing machine that was recently installed. This machine stores wine at ideal temperatures (per varietal) and pushes argon and nitrogen back into the bottle as it’s poured, keeping it fresh for weeks.
If value is what you’re looking for, you will find a great selection of French wines priced $8-$10 a bottle. Grab a bottle to go or enjoy a glass on the small patio and watch the ferry visitors walk by.
This shop isn’t just about wine. Tweiten is an avid Star Wars fan known worldwide for his world-record wait (four and a half months) in front of the Cinerama for the release of Star Wars Episode II in 2002. He has added a collection of Star Wars memorabilia, comic books and Magic cards to make a unique and interesting atmosphere for the shop.
The wine bar is easily accessible from the Seattle to Bainbridge Island ferry and is on the east side of Highway 305 on the main downtown drag. Located at 756 Winslow Way East, it’s open year-round, seven days a week, noon until 6:30 p.m. Cheers!