Then one day he was served bacalhau, dried salt cod, drizzled with olive oil and singed with onions in a wood-burning oven. "They served me Vinho Verde along with the meal, and I was dreading it," Kinssies remembers. "But with a bite of fish in my mouth, I took a sip, and it was a marriage made in heaven. Aha! I thought. This is why they make that wine! They don't make it to be on a restaurant wine list or reviewed by Robert Parker. They make it for bacalhau in Portugal! That was an epiphany for me about wine and why we drink it."
Kinssies strives to open customers' minds to new possibilities of what might appeal―and to help them save a few bucks along the way. He points to a bottle of Washington white wine, made with Roussanne, a Rhône grape generally used for blending.
"The producers were overly optimistic," he says. "They made thousands of cases, but had a hard time retailing the wine because so few people recognize the grape. But I liked it, I put it on my tasting bar, and I'm selling a lot of it. My customers like it because it's something very different and because it's a quality wine.
"That's the sport of wine. It's not buying the most expensive bottle on the shelf. For that, all you need is deep pockets. The sport is in finding something just as good … for 10 bucks. And I help people do that."
INFO: Wine Outlet (1701 First Ave. S.; 206/652-1311)