Truly great wine bars are defined by a spirit of generosity.
They're generous with knowledge. Generous with accessibility. And yes, generous with prices. On all these points, Bar Diane, Northwest Portland's newest wine lounge, is a major success, joining eastside hot spots such as Sardinehead and Les Caves on the short list of Portland's best wine bars.
Vibe-wise, the interior design is very much "Portland Restaurant Circa 2019"—exposed industrial roofing, marble bar, flickering candles, downtempo background music. The room is presided over by a large mural made up of geometric shapes in alternating shades of millennial pink. Along the other side of the bar, a list of wines by the glass is written in white cursive on a floor-to-ceiling mirror.
Everything on the well-curated list is available by the half glass, which should honestly be a law. (My half glass of Crémant de Loire was $7 here, which sounds about right.) Nearly every bottle is under $60, save for the smart, concise selection of Champagne and occasional ringers from winemakers like Ridge and Paolo Bea. Bottles are listed by producer, cuvée and grape—in this way, Bar Diane strikes a fine balance as a wine bar that rewards knowledge yet feels accessible and affordable no matter your starting base of wine knowledge.
There's also a small selection of non-alcoholic drinks, such as a honey lime tonic ($5), as well as a few classic cocktails, including a $12 vodka martini, and beers by the glass. The food menu runs from beet hummus ($6) to photogenic kanpachi crudo ($15) to a skirt steak with veggies ($18), which might be exactly what's needed as a group snack between bottles.
Best of all, every bottle can be had by the glass for 25 percent of the list price—a confident move that belies the bar's sense of self right out the gate. I could scarcely believe my good fortune as the bartender agreed to pull down a bottle of gorgeous Ar.Pe.Pe. Rosso di Valtellina ($74), a feather-light nebbiolo from Lombardy that tastes like winged violets.
"Don't worry," she said. "I'll sell another glass of this right away down the bar."
And she promptly did.
DRINK: Bar Diane, 2112 NW Irving St., Suite 105, bardiane.com. 4-11 pm Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, 4 pm-midnight Friday-Saturday.