Angela Allen

Will Prouty of Southpark. Photo by Steven Gibbons

Settle in at Southpark Seafood Grill & Wine Bar’s wraparound bar as Portland’s arts season amps up, and anticipate some taste travel with the lanky guy on the other side.

Will Prouty, who has crafted the wine list since 1998 when the urban seafood restaurant opened in Portland’s Cultural District, likes to pour a world of vintages. It might be a rough-edge tempranillo from Southern Oregon or a semi-dry French rose from Cotes du Thongue.

Prouty describes his picks by such flavor profiles as “crisp and clean” rather than by varietals. “I’m a ditch digger at heart, an everyman. Wine doesn’t have to be elitist.”

Southpark sells about 45 wines by the glass, half-glass or flight so you can taste a variety rather than work through a single bottle. Another 100 come by the bottle only. Prouty – recognize him by his gregarious nature, smooth pate and well-trimmed goatee – is big on Oregon vintages and bullish on wines with character. “I am much more excited by problematic vintages,” he says, “than chasing the vintage of the century.”

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