In honor of National Wine Day (May 25), here are four friendly neighborhood wine bars make wine approachable to the average Joe.
A number of wine bars across the city are actively working to counteract elusive wine speak with knowledgeable and friendly sommeliers who are well-versed in decoding vague requests. It doesn’t hurt that they are quick to pour a taste either. At Maxwell Park for example, a sommelier magically turned my: “Something peppery, but not too dry on the back end” into an enjoyable glass of wine that I would have never ordered otherwise. Cheers to this sampling of wine centric restaurants bridging the gap and making their rotating selections both approachable and affordable to the average wine-drinker without sacrificing quality along the way.
DIO // H Street Corridor
Natural wines get their due at this calming blue-hued H Street spot that opened its doors last fall. Owner Stacey Khoury-Diaz, who hails from a winemaking family extends her curiosity about wines with minimal sulfites into a focused venture the District has never seen. With 30 wines in the rotation, there is not shortage of varietals and regions to explore. We suggest trying an orange wine!
MAXWELL PARK // Shaw
After making its home in Shaw last year, the corner bar has quickly become a neighborhood favorite.Menu listings look descriptive enough on paper, but discussion with the knowledgeable staff is encouraged. Not ready to commit to a full glass of something exotic? Sampling is encouraged as noted by various size offerings (3 oz, 6 oz, 9oz). The wine list rotates monthly based on a theme (we especially appreciated March’s “Formation,” a Beyonce allusion spotlighting all female winemakers).In June look out for “Camp Maxwell” inviting drinkers to “Savor the sweet summer vibes with a selection of chill lakeside whites, campfire appropriate smoky reds.” Say no more.
PRIMROSE // Brookland
Sebastian Zutant and his wife Lauren Winter have created lots of buzz with their recently-opened French wine bar in Brookland, designed by Winter to be feminine and whimsical. Of the wine selection, Zutant formerly of the Red Hen and All Purpose, says “It means a lot to me that people don’t feel as though they are getting ripped off. If you are going to go out on a limb and buy some weird shit you shouldn’t have to cash a paycheck.” Amen, Sebastian.
Zutant’s currently jazzed about Francois Ecot’s ‘Humeur’ from Beaujolais ($60). The skinny: “I find myself recommending it (drinking it) more often than not,” he says, explaining that it is completely natural with no additives. “It reminds me of picking raspberries/blackberries with my mom when I was little (they still live around the corner from there).”
RUTA DEL VINO // Petworth
Owners of the Petworth neighborhood gem Justin Logan and his wife Jessica, showcase underrepresented wine regions in Central and South America by seeking bottles high in value and low in price. The couple opened the joint in the fall of 2016 after Logan says he got burned out at his 9 to 5 think tank job. They hope to educate their guests by “introducing weird stuff to people in an approachable way.” At the backbone of wine teaching is storytelling, Logan says. “The romance of wine is the story,” he explains. “When you take 20 seconds and hear that story… you feel like you have a little piece of knowledge.”