Seattle’s Locus Wines recently opened its new Pioneer Square tasting room with the ambitions of shaking “the dust off the perception of the standard, uppity wine tasting room,” says Rich Burton, co-owner and winemaker.
To do so, Burton and his business partner, Chef Ton Yazici, have launched the new tasting room with a focus on wine flights and bites. “We wanted to elevate wine tasting to a more exploratory experience where you can taste wines alongside some thoughtful bites of food,” Burton adds. “Both the wine and food become enhanced.”
From a house in the Madrona neighborhood to taking over the space that The Estates Wine Room (featuring wines from Seven Hills, Archery Summit and Double Canyon) held court until last August, Locus Wines brings its small-scale operation to a broader audience. “As trite as it may be, I would say I’m pretty minimalistic and a bit of a Europhile,” Burton says of his winemaking preferences and style. “I seek out cool-climate, high-elevation vineyards because I like wines with great natural acidity and just-ripe fruit notes.”
Wines of such descriptors typically lend themselves famously to food pairing, so Yazici is able to run free with the tasting room menu. Three different flights and pairings are offered, like The Rhônes, in which a Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah blend is matched with eggplant caprese and a single-varietal Syrah with blue Stilton cheese. In addition, there are larger plates available for order and wines by the glass and bottle.
Yazici also puts his culinary skills into a drinkable format with his popular rosé sangria, a recipe that is somewhere between mulled wine and winter sangria. “I do love mulled wine flavors but mulled wine tends to be extremely sweet [with] overpowering spices for the most part,” the chef says of why he combines the two classic recipes. “I feel it gets really lukewarm, really fast, losing layers of flavors along the way. Lukewarm drink is a confused drink.”
To avoid confusion, he adds ice to the mix. “I think [ice] achieves the principle rule of mixology: initial hit of alcohol, then softening it over time with ice, letting additional flavors unfold so the guests can enjoy it over a long period of time,” he says.
The chef and winery co-owner also uses an older vintage of Locus’ rosé — 2016 — as a major component of this punch. “The rosé grounds [the drink] in flavor and balance,” Yazici says. “An older rosé is going to have the acidity to balance out [the sweetness of sangria] and will have darker flavors to make sure it’s not an extremely sweet fruit bomb.”
Refreshingly dry and crowd pleasing, this rosé sangria has been an in-demand sip from Locus’ regulars and something Yazici enjoys making each year. Add it to your holiday cocktail menu this year by followin this simple recipe.
Locus Wines Rosé Sangria
Yields 48 ounces
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large cinnamon stick
4 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
1 star anise pod
2 cups cranberries
2 Granny Smith apples, diced
1 bottle (750ml) 2016 Locus Wines Rosé
1/3 cup ruby Port
1/3 cup Cointreau
1/3 cup cranberry juice (not concentrate)
In a saucepan, mix the water, sugar, crushed red pepper and spices. Simmer the syrup over moderately low heat for 15 minutes.
Using a fine mesh strainer, strain into a bowl and add the cranberries and apples. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Strain the fruit, reserving the spiced syrup, and some of the fruit if you are going to present this in a dispenser with diffuser element.
In a large pitcher, mix the rosé the Port, Cointreau, cranberry juice, fruit and the spiced syrup. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Serve over ice.