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Claire Jeffers

Claire Jeffers is a freelance writer living in Portland, Maine. Follow her on Twitter: @claireeats

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Posted: June 7, 2016

Glass half full — and that’s a good thing — at Carpe Diem in Yarmouth

Written by: Claire Jeffers
The Flight Feature of the Month for $11 included three tastes: Vinho Verde, Rose Vinho, both from Portugal, and Verde and Tempranillo from Spain. Photo by Claire Jeffers

The Flight Feature of the Month for $11 included three tastes: vinho verde, rose vinho, both from Portugal, and verde and tempranillo from Spain. Photo by Claire Jeffers

Robyn Barnes and Barb Brown go about things a little differently at Carpe Diem, their Yarmouth wine bar. If the same wine is sold down the street, they make a point to not carry it. If customers don’t love a wine at a tasting, you won’t see it on the shelves. They go way beyond cost-friendly wines by the glass; Barnes and Brown also offer nine distinctive wine flights from $10 to $12 – each flight includes three wines. (They’re also available by the bottle.)

“We don’t pretend to know everything about wine,” said Barnes, “so we pick wine based on our wine tastings, and who better to do that than the people at the tastings? No one is doing wine flights on a daily basis, so it gives us a chance to pair wines together that aren’t all from the same distributors.”

 Interior of Carpe Diem Wine Room in Yarmouth Photo by Claire Jeffers

The decor is simple at Carpe Diem Wine Room in Yarmouth Photo by Claire Jeffers

Open since the end of 2014, Carpe Diem seats 70, not including the outdoor patio, which has four large and two small tables. The interior is roomy, with 10 seats at the bar and two lounge corners with couches and more comfortable furniture – a weekly knitting group enjoys these corners. The décor is simple and elegant with quotes on the wall you might find at an optimistic aunt’s house: “Just breathe … you’ll never live this moment again”; “Wine is bottled poetry”; and another one about how you are “sparkling.”

“People like the idea of something that feels like their own,” Brown said about their wine-flight concept. “We’re comfortable and unpretentious, so the reception has been great not only from regulars, but also from new people they bring in.”

Each of the nine flights has names like “Wonderland Whites” and Captivating Cabs” – cheeseball, yes, not unlike the wall quotes, but at $10-$12 for a taste of three unique wines, I say call them whatever you want. If the busy crowd on a recent Tuesday night indicates anything, it’s that people really seem to love this place.

Carpe Diem’s monthly wine tastings are also a huge draw. Barnes and Brown see up to 55 people at the tastings, many of which sell out. For $15, you taste three whites and three reds – all wines that are not currently on the menu. Tapas, such as cheese, meat, hummus and crackers, are provided.

“We don’t sell retail wine, and there is no pressure during our wine tastings to buy a bottle or a case,” Barnes said. “It’s all about fun and helping us to decide on wines for the future.”

An exterior of Carpe Diem and its outdoor patio at Yarmouth Crossing. Photo by Claire Jeffers

Carpe Diem and its outdoor patio at Yarmouth Crossing. Photo by Claire Jeffers

There are also four beers on tap ($8) and a flight of beer is available (pick three) for $10. Recently, Maine Beer Co., Bunker Brewing Co., Uinta Brewing and Stoneface Brewing Co. were available.

It’s easy to fill up on tapas here too. You can pick among cheese and meat plates, olives, nuts, dips and combo plates designed by Barnes and Brown. The menu offers five different desserts, too, which are also served to accompany wines and bubbles.

A new wine menu will be available starting this week to reflect lighter whites for summer, but many wines will carry over because of their popularity. By the end of the month, expect to find a couple of fire pits on the patio, and look for updates about the next wine tasting (Wednesday) by signing up for emails or checking Facebook.

Carpe Diem Wine Room

WHERE: 18 Yarmouth Crossing, Yarmouth
PHONE: 847-5222
WEBSITE: carpediemwineroom.com
HOURS: Wednesday-Saturday 4:30-9:30 p.m.
AMENITIES: Patio seating, forthcoming fire pits, lounge seating, Wi-Fi, space for events and large parties.
PARKING: Parking lot with 30-plus spaces
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes
BOTTOM LINE: Carpe Diem is a spacious wine bar in Yarmouth that offers a wide variety of wine flights, as well as wines by the glass and bottle. A rotation of local beer is on tap, and generous tapas are available. The space is great for all sorts of occasions, including large and small groups. Affordable, friendly and convenient, you’ll leave this place smiling.

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