So, here’s my question: the wine bar proliferation over the past few years – fad or fabulous? I mean, with all these places popping up everywhere, are people actually learning about wine? Becoming educated oenophiles? Or still just stabbing nervous fingers in an overwhelming list and hoping like mad they pronounce “viognier” correctly?
Seriously, dear reader, hasn’t it come down to one thing and one thing alone – the size of the charcuterie plate? Isn’t it all about the meat and cheese?
Well, maybe not. In a city like DC there really are a lot of wine connoisseurs who would be far more qualified to talk about this trend than me. I’m just lucky to have two neighborhood wine bars – Cork and Vinoteca – where I can hang out and slowly pick up some idea of what I like. Of those two, I think Vinoteca has evolved the most. It didn’t spring out of the gate fully formed as a Frommer’s pick. There were some hiccups along the way since its opening in fall of 2007. But after several recent sojourns with good service giving spot-on wine recommendations, not to mention one of the best charcuterie plates in the city, I’ve really warmed up to Vinoteca as a favorite drinks spot.
And maybe not just for the sinful duck prosciutto… or the fact that they have tasty venison, lamb, and bison sliders… though that certainly helps!
Though the stylishly mod bar and dining room can get tightly packed and the decibels deafening at peak capacity, there’s something about the atmosphere that makes me not mind so much. Perhaps it’s the glow off red tiled walls, or the candlelight reflecting in goblet-sized glasses. Perhaps it’s after a few sips of a beautifully deep Malbec or a Barolo on a cold night, it hits me that it isn’t so terrible to be out and about in a crowd that’s happy and buzzed.
The wine menu is neatly mixed between old and new world, and currently features five flights to help you explore such varietals as the maligned Merlot and beloved bubbles. I especially like zeroing in on their “unique” sections, to challenge myself to get away from my usual choice of a Sauvignon Blanc.
Vinoteca also has an avowed dedication to be a neighborhood bar, which in these rough times means helping us all out with specials. This is especially evident at brunch, served Sundays from 11am-3pm, where you can get sparkling wine cocktails like Kir Royale for $1 each. Yes, $1, at the bar.
Or the $5 a glass Tuesdays thru Thursdays Happy Hour from 5pm-7pm, that certainly will help your pocketbook and your ability to branch out and try something new. Further, if you’re clueless about wine but want to learn more in a friendly setting without the stress of a night out, they have $35 classes every Tuesday from 7-8pm in the eclectic upstairs lounge. Next class on the 17th tackles Burgundy.
Oh yes, and try the duck prosciutto. I dream about it. Meltingly divine decadence…
1940 11th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001