Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Make a Toast to Champagne Day!

Photo courtesy of
‘Look, A Champagne Cork’
courtesy of ‘[F]oxymoron’

Today is the second annual Global Champagne Day (that would be #ChampagneDay for the geekier drinker) and there are several ways to celebrate this most auspicious occasion around Washington.

At Proof, rare and wonderful Champagnes will be available – at every price-point from $10 to $60 per glass. Wine Director Sebastian Zutant’s selections include Jean Moutardier Rosé, Jacques Selosse Initiale, Louis Roederer Cristal 2002, and Salon Le Mesnil 1997 – only the 36th vintage of Le Mesnil to be released in a century.

If just a glass of Champagne is not enough, Marcel’s will be hosting a special French meal of three courses, each paired with a special Champagne, for $100. Reservations are available by calling the restaurant at 202-296-1166.

Of course, it is always Champagne Day in my heart.

Downtown, Foggy Bottom

We Love Drinks: Wine Riot Comes to DC

Wine Riot DC 8

Big wine tasting events can have a couple of types of bad reputations. There are ones that are stuffy, pretentious, and full of sweater-around-the-shoulders snobs tooling around Napa Valley in their German convertibles. There are others where cackling middle-aged book-club members seem to arrive by the Range Rover load to get sauced in the mid-day sun. We can agree that those are all terrible.
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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Uncorking the First DC Wine Week

Photo courtesy of
‘on the table’
courtesy of ‘cerotio’

October 15 – 22 marks the first-ever organized “wine week” in DC. Much like the beer weeks we have come to know, DC Wine Week exists to educate and engage patrons with wine and encourage them to sample some new tastes in new places.

Created by two wine-loving friends, Lisa Byrne of DC Event Junkie and Vanessa French, DC Wine Week has events scheduled all over town. They range from the extravagant – a Champagne “Experience” at Bourbon Steak – to the more accessible classes, tastings, and happy hours. An invitation-required party at Sonoma launches the week on Saturday night – and a big closing party at One Lounge will wrap it up on the 22nd.

Weather you are a wine newbie or a dedicated oenophile, DC Wine Week hopes you come out, taste, and meet other wine people in the area.

The Daily Feed

Maryland Okays Direct Wine Shipment

Photo courtesy of
‘Simplicity’
courtesy of ‘Rukasu1′

Maryland oenophiles rejoice! Now you don’t even have to leave your house or put on clothes to get your chardonnay or pinot noir. The Maryland legislatures passedHouse Bill 1175, which allows direct shipment of wine to consumers in Maryland. Maryland wine drinkers can now have up to 18 cases a year shipped directly to their doorsteps, starting July 1st. The measure was largely uncontroversial, having passed the State Senate 47-0 on Friday and the House 135-1 on March 25th.
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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Dinner with Wine Pairings at Ripple

Photo courtesy of
‘ready for wine’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

I confess that as a foodie my knowledge of pairing wines with food is…shall we say, a little lacking. I’ve always deferred to the “experts” and wino friends for advice on what wines to buy and what to serve them with. So the Peter Franus dinner and wine pairing at Ripple seems like it would be perfect for someone whose knowledge of wine is limited to “white with chicken and fish, red with beef.”

The dinner on January 25th will consist of five courses served with Napa Valley wines from Peter Franus Wines. Ripple is a gem in the city and when I had dinner there in the early fall, every dish was great from start to finish. For this particular tasting, some of the courses will include slow poached eggs, crispy duck leg confit, a braised veal cheek and a spin on the Fig Newton. Wine selections will include zinfandels, sauvignon blanc and a cabernet.

Tickets are $90 per person. To make a reservation for the dinner, call 202-244-7995 or email danny@rippledc.com or theo@rippledc.com.

Entertainment, Food and Drink, People, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

Thankful (for Drinks)

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘flipperman75′

Two weeks til Thanksgiving. Maybe you are staying put in DC and hosting your own dinner. Or you’re heading elsewhere and are faced with the inevitable stress of traveling. In either case, chances are you’re going to need liquid courage. Don’t panic, We Love Drinks is here to help.

Some personal disclosure – my parents are teetotalers. Explains a lot, doesn’t it? For my brother and I, no holiday visit to the parental compound is complete without a trip to the local liquor store, loading up on a whole cart of wine and spirits. He has expensive tastes. Somehow I end up paying. But it’s worth it.

Of course I’m not advocating getting bombed for Thanksgiving! Enjoy the holiday by indulging in some civilized drinks in moderation. I canvassed three local sommeliers for their recommendations of what goes best with the traditional feast, and as with the end of summer wines list culled previously, they’ve responded with some stand-out sips.

Let’s start with Elli Benchimol from Chef Geoff’s, who speaks for most of us when she says, “My Thanksgiving lasts all day, and most of the night, there are usually children running around, as well as adults, and it is an absolute necessity to have lots of wine, not only to keep you sane, but to keep you going.” Continue reading

Entertainment, Food and Drink, People, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Wine Away Your Afternoon

Photo courtesy of
‘glasses’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

Looking to sneak out this dreary afternoon and indulge in some liquid escapism? Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group and widely considered one of the top sommeliers in the world, will be at Bourbon Steak this afternoon from 1pm to 4pm signing copies of his new book Secrets of the Sommeliers.

This is a fantastic chance for an informal chat about any and all wine questions with the man “who knows everything and everyone in the wine world!” says Julian Mayor, Bourbon Steak’s sommelier. Rajat Parr is a highly noted authority on burgundies, so if you want to learn more about the famous French varietal this is a great opportunity. Not to mention free wine and food in a beautiful setting. If I could sneak away, I certainly would.

Food and Drink, People, The Features, We Love Drinks

The Last of the Summer Wine

Photo courtesy of
‘la terrasse’
courtesy of ‘jenny downing’

It may be September, but we denizens of DC know that doesn’t mean an automatic reprieve from hot weather. Though autumn’s official start will arrive in a few weeks, we still have plenty of swelter left. So, what to drink in this transitional time, this ‘tween season not quite summer and not quite fall?

Luckily for us, we’ve got a lot of brilliant local sommeliers to help us over the hump. I asked a quintet to recommend some current favorites to drink now and as the seasons change, and they’ve responded most generously. There’s an embarrassment of riches here – wine recommendations, vinology knowledge to inspire you to learn more, and some tempting food pairings to whet your appetite! So join me as we explore a beautiful array of wines to sip while enjoying the last of the summer heat, as the hazy lazy afternoons slowly give way to the crisp bounty of autumn color.
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The Features, The Great Outdoors, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Memorial Day BBQ

Photo courtesy of
‘Beer and burger’
courtesy of ‘Magnus D’

I hope that you’ll grill this weekend. To me, that’s what Memorial Day is all about. I don’t dream of stepping on any family tradition or intruding in any masculine domain by suggesting what you should grill and how you should grill it. That’s counter productive, in my mind. Besides, I’m no grill master, myself. I’ll leave that to better and braver souls. I want to talk to you about what you should drink this weekend. It’s easy just to run out to the grocery and pick up a 12 pack of Bud Light and some cheap white wine for your Memorial Day bar-b-que. In fact, that’s probably what most of America will do on Monday, but most of America won’t enjoy their tasty beverage nearly as much as you will, oh informed reader that follows my advice. Continue reading

Entertainment, Food and Drink, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Smackdown! Beer vs. Wine 2

Photo courtesy of
‘Glorious Cheese’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

When last we met for an epic drinks smackdown back in March, fellow WLDC author Kirk and I had our preconceived notions of which paired better with food – wine or beer – challenged and in some cases totally overthrown. I left with a heightened appreciation for beer and a fascination with the subject of food pairings. So when I was invited to attend National Geographic Live’s A Come to Cheeses Moment: Wine vs. Beer event, where beer and wine would duke it out over best pairing with cheese, it took little to convince me.

Wouldn’t you know that earlier in the day I was advised to kick the dairy habit for two weeks thanks to suspected lactose intolerance (my reaction? censored!). So my second drinks smackdown fittingly became farewell to my beloved cheese. Forgive me then if this reads more as an ode to cheese than to drinks! Sigh. I inhaled deeply as I entered the Grosvenor Auditorium at the National Geographic headquarters, redolent with the stinky glorious aroma, ready to say good-bye.

It was a packed house, and we were incredibly lucky in our three distinguished (and humorous) presenters – Steven Jenkins, Joshua Wesson and Nick Funnell. Both Jenkins and Wesson are regular on NPR’s The Splendid Table – Jenkins is the first American to win the prestigious title Chevalier du Taste Fromage and Wesson is the author of Red Wine With Fish and a top sommelier, having opened Best Cellars in 1996. Funnell is the brewmaster for the Great American Restaurants chain and a winner at the Great American Beer Festival. They had an amazing depth of knowledge that I can’t hope to replicate, but I’ll try to give you a taste.

All of the cheese served was from raw milk, and Jenkins did point out that he had chosen obscure cheeses which might be difficult for us to get ourselves (you’ve just been challenged!). The price point of the wine was very reasonable, Wesson indicated, around $15 a bottle. Funnell had picked all local beers at roughly $7 a pint.

So let’s dive in! Continue reading

Alexandria, Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Smackdown! Beer vs. Wine

Remnants of Beer vs. Wine

Remnants of Beer vs. Wine, by Jenn Larsen on Flickr

Thor Cheston is the beer director for Brasserie Beck, while Leah Dedmon is the wine director for BRABO. They may both work for Robert Wiedmaier (Rammy’s Chef of the Year last June), but they are passionate rivals on the merits of beer vs. wine, especially when it comes to which will pair best with food.

Oh, they’re also engaged.

Fellow WLDC author Kirk and I aren’t engaged. We aren’t even really rivals, he just happens to be partial to beer while I prefer cocktails. But we are committed to bringing you the very best in drinks! So when we learned Thor and Leah would be going head-to-head in a battle to prove whether beer or wine would win as best for food pairings, we jumped. Four courses crafted by Robert Wiedmaier, paired by Leah and Thor with both wine and beer? There was even a tie-breaker course! It’s a rough life, but we suffered for you.

Most importantly, the loser of this ancient struggle has to do the other’s laundry for a month (that would be Thor or Leah, not Kirk or I!). Along the way we learned a lot about interesting ways to do food pairings with different types of beer and wine. All took place Wednesday night over at Wiedmaier’s “foodie trifecta” partnership with Kimpton’s Lorien Hotel & Spa in Old Town, Alexandria – BRABO, the Tasting Room, and the Butcher’s Block.

It was a tough crowd of fervent wine and beer lovers. So let’s kick this battle off with some oysters, a strong golden ale, and a chablis…. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Food & Folklore: A Night with Women of the Vine

Photo courtesy of
‘glass of bokeh, anyone?’
courtesy of ‘Robert S. Donovan’

Last night I had the pleasure of attending this month’s installment of Eatonville’s Food & Folklore series, entitled “Women of the Vine.” The event featured Deborah Brenner, who is not only the author of Women of the Vine, a book chronicling the stories of various women in the wine industry, but also the founder of Women of the Vine Cellars. The event was an entire four-course dinner complete with great food, great conversation, and of course great wine. In fact, for each course, there was a different wine to taste…what more could a girl ask for?!

What I loved is that the dinner was so appropriately scheduled during Women’s History Month, and that it took place in Eatonville, a restaurant dedicated to Zora Neale Hurston, a woman who is known for her own contributions to the literary world and attended DC’s own Howard University. While we ate, Brenner gave us a mini-lesson about recognition of women in the wine industry, or lack thereof, which actually inspired her book and winery.  From the asparagus soup with parmesan custard (which was to die for), to the creme brulee, the food definitely got a thumbs up on my end. But of course, we can’t forget the wine. Although I’m usually partial to white wine, the merlot served with the entree did make me briefly consider the red team..so all around it was great.

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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour: Tomorrow at Vinoteca

Happy Hour Flyer March 3

Interested in starting a food blog? Or maybe you have one up-and-running, but you want to share ideas with local bloggers about recipes, photography and software? Or really, maybe you just want to talk about food. We know people who do that, too. Join the DC Food Bloggers tomorrow night for happy hour at Vinoteca.

See you there! And make sure to RSVP on the Facebook fan page.

Special thanks to co-hosts The Arugula Files, Beerspotter, Biscuits and Such, Capital Spice, Capital Cooking, Common Man Eats, DininginDC Gradually Greener, ModernDomestic, Thrifty DC Cook, and WeLoveDC.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, We Love Drinks

Friday Happy Hour: Bruno Porro Dolcetto

Photo courtesy of
‘Too much red wine’
courtesy of ‘koalazymonkey’

Welcome to the Friday Happy Hour, your single drink primer for the weekend.

Stormy weather for the weekend. Sigh. With all the gloominess looming, I think I’ll tuck myself away in a corner at Tabard Inn and indulge in some serious wine. Not only do I adore this quirky inn but they also happen to have one of my favorite wines by the glass – Bruno Porro Dolcetto di Dogliani.

Whenever I order this rich dense red, my friends roll their eyes. “You and your funky wine!” they laugh, wrinkling their noses. “It’s not funky, it’s earthy!” I protest back. Semantics. A smattering of plums and cherries? Maybe some coffee, chocolate? A log of mushrooms, damp from the forest floor? See, it’s this last scent that really drives me crazy and keeps me ordering it again and again. It’s like when you used to jump into a pile of leaves as a kid, you didn’t care that it was wet and maybe a little moldy, it was fun! The winery is in Piedmont near Alba, and that’s where my grandfather’s family is from, so maybe my love of earthy wines is in the blood.

Tabard Inn has a very sweet framed letter from Bruno Porro thanking them for importing their dolcetto (look for it in the restroom). I feel like thanking him myself for this red velvet delight. I’ll just wrap myself up in a glass and nap before the fireplace.

The Daily Feed

Save Wine and Sunsets

Photo courtesy of
‘Wine’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

If you like watching the sun set over a glass of merlot in Virginia’s wine country, watch out — those days may be numbered, and your favorite winery’s may be, too.

Fauquier County is still considering shutting down its wineries at 6 p.m., except in special cases, putting your ability to enjoy evening events and wineries’ ability to break even on the chopping block.

The first hearing was back in November, and the county will hold another, possibly final, public hearing on Thursday. Luckily, you can help.
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Downtown, Food and Drink, People, Special Events, The Daily Feed

New Vintage Wine Tasting on Monday

Photo courtesy of
‘Sonoma Wine Bar’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

The New Vintage is hosting another charity wine event on Monday evening.  Castello Banfi, an Italian vineyard, will be showcasing a number of their wines at Cork Wine Bar, which is booked solely for this even. Tickets, which must be purchased ahead of time, are $50 ($25 is tax deductible) and benefit the American Heart Association. The event is a great way to meet and network with younger, philanthropically minded people.  Yours truly will be there, and I suggest that you come to.  After all, it’s nice to experience the softer side of charity, every so often.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Bistrot Lepic’s Tuesday Happy Hour

Mural, Bistrot Lepic

"Mural, Bistrot Lepic" by Jenn Larsen on Flickr

Snowpocalypse hangover gotcha down? Feeling a bit battered by slush and shoveling? Bistrot Lepic has launched its new Tuesday Happy Hour program in the upstairs wine bar, and from 6pm to 8pm tonight you can try complimentary pours from its extensive wine list. Co-Owner and Managing Partner Cyrille Brenac will choose some of the more unique wines off the 160 bottle collection for you to try, and will switch it up weekly. Tonight features a 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Quincy, Domaine de Chevilly.

I love this wine bar’s quiet and intimate setting (but especially the mural of the helpful pigs) and its cosy, terribly sexy ambience is just the thing to stave off any holiday blues.

Alexandria, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Red or White? Win a Personalized Bottle of Each!

Photo courtesy of
‘Veritas’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

The age old saga: red or white wine? Well, dear reader, you have your chance to weigh in. Do you prefer the hints of oak and honey in your favorite white or the bursts of cedar and cherries in your reds? Does one pair better with your favorite take-out Thai dish than the other?

Last week, we sat down with Lamar Brown, proprietor of Carafe Wines in Alexandria. He was so pleased with the feedback he received from We Love DC readers after his interview, that he’s offered up a chance for you to win a bottle of each – with your own personalized labels! Holiday gifts anyone?

Vote in the comments – red or white wine, and I’ll use random.org to pick a winner. Lamar is thinking he’ll give away a bottle of his Chardonnay and bottle of his Red Zin. If you’re feeling really lucky, he might even tell you the best carry-out that goes with each bottle.

So, red or white? Oh, and please, do tell us why! Continue reading

Alexandria, Food and Drink, Interviews, People, The Features

He Loves DC: Lamar Brown

Lamar

Earlier this week, I sat down with Lamar Brown, engineer and corporate drone by day and wine connoisseur and entrepreneur by night. His cozy shop just off King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Carafe Wines, is the city’s only “micro-winery,” allowing customers to sample and then bottle their own wines. With grape juices shipped in from vineyards in Chile, California, New Zealand, Italy, France and Washington, to name a few, it may not be the most green method, but he’s created a truly unique niche for delightfully aged wines made right in good old Alexandria.

Having lived in Northern Virginia for 10 years, Lamar had a vision to take his extreme interest and admiration for good wine to the next level. His dream was realized two years ago, and now, he proudly allows his customers to make their own wines and their own private labels.

Nestled between a gorgeous marble bar and a bustling fireplace, I sampled the Rosso Miscele Reserve, a Tuscan-styled wine vented from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and later a dab of the Merlot Reserve, a full-bodied wine with hints of red cherries, toasted oak and herbs. Then we sat down to business and focused on Lamar’s storied history with wine, the DC area, and, of course, what wine pairs best with Matchbox sliders.

What inspired you to start Carafe Wines?
Actually, a love of wines, to be honest. And I saw a cool niche. The whole wine making experience actually originated in Canada. I ran into it there, and I worked with a lot of Canadians to bring the concept to DC. I did some research, and DC area is actually the second most wine-centric area in the country outside of California. So, we sell more bottles per capita than anybody. I thought people would get a cool kick out of being able to make their own wine.

So, why do you think DC is the number two area for wine purchases in America? Continue reading

The Daily Feed

County May Shut Down Wine and Sunsets in Virginia

Sunsets on the patio

Sunsets on the patio

If you like sipping wine at sunset at wineries in Virginia’s Fauquier County, you might soon be out of luck.

Tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Warrenton, a public hearing will take place on proposed new zoning ordinances that would limit wineries’ ability to hold events, especially in the evening, and would put the kibosh on outdoor music.

There are 17 wineries in Fauquier, and they have a lot of events. One would think they might also bring a lot of business into the county, but perhaps this is about something other than common sense.
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