Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend clearly had never met me and seen the way I pine over something else entirely: vino. Sure, I love a little bling, but not the way I downright adore a lot of wine. I like it in red or white. I can dig a 2-buck Chuck just as much as I can swirl around a $18 glass and pretend I know what tannins are and why they make me question my life choices the next day. But, no matter how bad the headache or how deep the holes in my pocket are, I always come back for another pour (a heavy one, preferably). And, the truth is, I’m not alone. The average of-age resident in the United States consumed 2.94 gallons of wine last year in the United States (and my best guess goes to the fact that there are some above-average underagers sneaking in under the radar). That’s a lot of wine. And if you didn’t know already, there’s plenty of that right under our subtle-bit-of-oak and just-a-touch-of-berry seeking noses – aka right here in the District. There’s plenty of places around to put your pinky up and swirl around sips of the good stuff. Here are some of my picks:
ENO is pretty much everything you want a wine bar to be: quaint, cute, and filled to the brim with exceptional wine choices and accompanying cheese deliciousness. Everything changes seasonally here to reflect what’s “in” or “out,” making the wine and dine experience fresher than most, guaranteed. They have a variety of wine flights available, ranging to include everything from sparkling to Rosé to the more traditional choices. The food menu also features pretty much the usual suspects for a night of treating yourself such as charcuterie boards, artisanal chocolates, various types of bruschetta, flatbreads, and grilled cheese.
This is the perfect place to get your wine on if you’ve been abroad and think nothing could ever live up to the stuff you sipped late at night on the winding streets of Barthelona. There are two locations within city limits, with one on 14th street and one in Cathedral Heights. On Yelp, one reviewer goes so far to call the ambiance “electric.” I can’t comment on the electricity in the air, but I can comment on their ability to lure even the shyest of wine drinkers in with an exceptional selection of Spain-worthy tapas. Some samples from their menu include Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Patatas Bravas, Blistered Shishito Peppers, Crispy Calamari, and Chorizo with Sweet & Sour Digs. Pass the wine, you’re going to be here for a while.
Okay, this wine bar is for those of you who can tell the difference between a Cab and a Merlot and have definitely distanced yourself from the you that used to drink Franzia (we’ve all done it). The location, right inside The Jefferson Hotel, is a stone’s throw away from the White House and set up perfectly for a fancy, impressive, and romantic experience that will have you wondering if you’re in ‘Murica or Paris after all. The wine list features over 1300 labels, and is not for those looking to keep their pockets full. A relatively simple meal with one of the middle-of-the-road wines can easily cost more than $300 for two here. On the other hand though, there are wines dating back to 1795, so a splurge might be worth it. Rule #1: Never let dust on the bottle deter you.
With a name like Flight, as a wine bar, you’ve got to be good – and this place lives up to the name. They feature an extensive wine list, but as some of us know, a long list is only good if the servers can help you navigate it – and here, they can. The bartenders are extremely knowledgable and they’ve got a happy hour special that is one for the books (read: your books – mark it in your calendar). On Monday from 5PM to close and Tuesday – Friday from 5:00 PM to 6:30, they offer $15 dollar flights, which is a steal considering both the area and that they have a selection of 24 different flights to choose from. The food menu here is small but mighty, featuring wine night staples like Burrata and a Pickle Plate. What ups the ante at this place is that they focus on small, family owned estates, making their wine even **more** special.
Sometimes, when it comes to wine bars, it can be a little “been there, done that.” The Den is something different entirely. What this small find lacks in a wine list, it makes up for in charm. The Den is part coffee house, part wine bar, all hipster-hangout beneath a stellar independent book store where you can grab a good glass of wine and some unpretentious food. The wine list is short, but it’s got the necessities ( think Pinot Grigio, Merlot, and the like). Plus the food sounds divine, with offerings such as Cucumber & Avocado Toasts (featuring Red Pepper Turmeric Hummus, Fried Quinoa Garnish, and Za’atar) and dessert options like Campfire Toast (Toasted Brioche, Nutella, Torched Marshmallows, and Graham Cracker Crumbles.)