D.C. Wine Guide
svetlana | Feb 18, 2015 | 9:00AM |

Happy National Drink Wine Day! Or whatever it is. What it comes down to – we’ve been looking for an excuse to do a solid gold DC wine guide (wines being, lets face it, the most intimidating of drink choices out there for the regular diner and drinker) and this “holiday” gave us that excuse.

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So, we rounded up some of our favorite sommeliers, wine directors, wine makers, wine retailers and just plain ole’ wine enthusiasts and asked them to answer these 5 questions in their best expert opinion:

  • What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?
  • What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?
  • What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?
  • You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?
  • What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?
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>>>>>>>>>>>> Ok, back to the article! >>>>>>>>>>>>

And they kindly obliged us with their picks. Some of the answers are pretty universal (the love of Red Hen, Proof, Doi Moi, Cork and Iron Gate programs seems to be spreadling like wildfire through this group, and Vinoteca IS the wine happy hour of choice though there are some hidden gems to be found sprinkled throughout), but the gist is the same: if you want to have the best in DC wine experience, these are some good words to live by, or, you know-just go to their establishment and let them take care of you. You’ll be in (very) good hands

In no particular order, lets dive in:

Jennifer Knowles, Sommelier – Plume at The Jefferson, D.C.

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

Although it’s not the reigning king of hipness anymore, I believe that Grüner Veltliner is an essential part of any wine program year round, but especially by the glass programs during winter and spring. With the ubiquity of hearty winter greens all over the city right now, and the advent of the vegetal harbingers of spring on the horizon (fiddlehead ferns, fava beans and asparagus) Grüner’s place at the table should be safely secured. It has the phenolic bitterness to balance even the most tannic chard and the tell tale white pepper aroma and flavor to mitigate the heat in any rabe, particularly when the spice factor is amped up with red chili flakes . With a wide range of styles available, you can usually suss out the weight and richness of a bottle by the alcohol level, with those under 12.5% classically showing crisper and more intense citrus zest notes while those over 13-13.5% are typically more heady in the peppery and earth aromas as well as having a richer texture for heartier dishes. I pour a fuller bodied, old vine Austrian Grüner that sits perfectly with oysters brimming with saline minerality and braised greens but will transition perfectly to the smoky morels and sweet English peas that will hopefully be here soon! Oh, and just to put a nail in the coffin of the idea that no wine pairs with asparagus, the Austrians actually have dedicated an entire month to their native Grüner and white asparagus…

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

The list at Fiola in the Penn Quarter has become one of the deepest and most varied lists in the city. Although the focus has always been on Italy, not only has Wine Director Casper Rice secured some of the most coveted wines from around the world but he has also taken the time to find hundreds of amazing values that represent small, artisanal producers as well. You can have an affordable ½ bottle of Orsolani erbaluce or splurge on a first growth Bordeaux or a grand cru Burgundy, with everything in between. You’d be hard pressed find a more diverse selection of Italian whites and reds along side the royalty of California, Spain and beyond. Add on the fact that Casper will have you laughing while you’re learning a thing or two and you have a killer combo.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

Ripple. As restaurant people, we don’t normally have off the coveted happy hour days, but that turns out to be a good thing when you just want to sip some wine and eat what makes you happy. Ripple not only has a drool worthy wine list, but also the insane culinary talents of Marjorie Meek-Bradley who can make getting off the couch on a Sunday after a long week on the floor seem like paradise. Whether you have the uber seasonal early bird menu or decide to sit at the grilled cheese bar and create your own insane fromonster, there is always a perfect wine both by the glass and bottle to pair. Along side the dynamo Danny Fisher, there is an amazing and passionate staff to assist if you’re stumped with what goes with a ‘just put everything on it please’ sandwich or a big ole board of meat.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

Since I moved here over 4 years ago, I have been a die-hard Schneiders devotee. From the first time I walked in with my 2 year old nephew, and was kindly welcomed with a lollipop to keep his grabby hands occupied, to the spot on recommendation from 3rd and 4th generation owners Josh, Jon and Rick Genderson, I have never been in a wine shop where I felt more comfortable. The staff is so helpful without ever being intrusive and with a warehouse treasure trove at their disposal, I am always wicked excited to see what they have on the shelves (and upstairs). The first thing I look for is Syrah and I have found everything from a mind blowing (and affordable) 1999 St. Joseph to polished Cote Rotie and more affordable Crozes Hermitage from the Rhone. I also love their Spanish red section which always has something cool that will please multiple palates and the Champagnes they direct import have been winners every time and don’t make people cough on the bubbles when you tell them the price.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

We have a Diver Sea Scallops dish that has a number of intense flavors including Powidel Plum, Ginger Bread Croutons, Red Beets, Roasted Cashew Nuts, and Smoked Butter. When ever I see a shellfish dish that is low in acidity and rich in toasty/buttery flavors I immediately go to the white Rhône varieties, particularly Marsanne and Roussanne. Although these grapes make wines with naturally moderate acidity and more viscosity, they are usually balanced by bitterness and tannin from pressing with the skins which acts as a unique palate cleanser. 3 star Michelin chef Anne-Sophie Pic and wine guru Michel Chapoutier teamed up to create a line of wines that were focused on the dishes found in the northern Rhone Valley in France where they both grew up, which tend to be fairly rich. This 100% marsanne from the small village of St. Peray, which is more famous for its sparkling wines, has followed me from The Inn at Little Washington to The Jefferson, DC. It has beautiful aromas of pear blossom and marzipan as well as a bit of a roasted hazelnut note that really accentuates the sear of the scallops and the earthiness of the beets. On the palate is has the weight to balance the sweet and tangy plum but finishes with a bitter walnut note that cuts the butter.

Sebastian Zutant, Co-owner and Beverage Director – The Red Hen

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

I made a rosé for the restaurant this year, I’m super excited about it. It will be around in March. Sarah one of our servers made the label and it’s rad. Overall though, the return of rosé, for me I equate it to chefs being excited for spring veggies, though I can’t wait for those either.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

Doi Moi. Max has a great palette, and it’s eclectic like mine. I’m also more of a white wine drinker, and the whites there are sick. And I love Max.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

I own my own restaurant and have two children, happy hour is not an option. If it is, it’s tequila and Radler time.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

Cordial at Union Market does a good job. I love Wagshals and I can get a solid sammy too. Again, however, I own a restaurant, drinking comes easy.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

Mike (my amazing business partner and Chef) makes an amazing Tuscan chicken liver mousse with toast. I love pairing it with Butler & Nephew 10 yr old white port. Slightly sweet and caramalized, it plays great with the baking spice component of the mousse. Also, the port is a bit figgy, and the liver has a fig preserve on it. That’s fucking magic.

Brent Kroll, Neighborhood Restaurant Group – Wine Director

(Iron Gate, The Partisan, Birch & Barley and Churchkey, Rustico and more)

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

This winter I’m really excited about a Rhone promotion at The Partisan. We offer Chateauneuf’s and Cote Roties sold by the ounce with at least 15 years on them. It’s stored at cellar temperature and preserved with argon, so we’re not winging it either. The roasted meat, pepper and stewed fruit pairs great with an array of charcuterie and meat dishes from Chefs Nate Anda and Ed Witt.

For spring, I’m always excited for the new roses to be released. On the high end I look forward to Chateau Simone and Domaine Tempier. On more of a fun note, I really go after Txokolina rose and some roses from Southern Italy.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

I’ve always admired what Sebastian at Red Hen has done. He was one of my first Sommelier friends in DC and he’s always pushing creative boundaries. He gets credited with knowing the weird, but I’ll trust him on a classic any day.
Also, what Max Kuller picks to offset the spicy dishes at Doi Moi is fantastic. If you want to see pairings where the food and wine changes, this is a great place to get a spread and let him go to work.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

Shame on me but I haven’t gone to a wine happy hour in a long time. Sundays are usually when we get some free time, so I like that Julie Dalton does half off on Sundays at Wit and Wisdom and I enjoy the Spanish wine specials at Vinoteca on Sunday when they have a flamenco band.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

I like to go to Schneider’s. I was able to pick up some cool things when they acquired the late Citronelle’s cellar. I’ve also had good luck with mature wines from Germany there. That’s probably what I go back for the most.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

Lambrusco secco and mixed plate of charcuterie at The Partisan, where there is a huge selection of charcuterie that you can order sushi style. There I have a page dedicated to producers of “real” Lambrusco. This same pairing is what you double fist in Bologna and there’s a reason for that.

Andy Myers, ThinkFoodGroup Wine Director

(Jaleo, minibar, Zaytinya, Oyamel, China Chilcano, America Eats Tavern and more)

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

I have been completely enamored with the wines of Texas winemaker Kim McPherson lately. In particular his Dry Chenin Blanc and his “Tre Colores” Mourvedre blend that we pour at Oyamel.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

I think the ability to sample some of the greatest, old Burgundies and Bordeaux via the Coravin system at minibar makes it my favorite for sampling the classics. If I’m looking for wines that are brand new and exciting for me then I like to visit Sebastian at Red Hen and let him blow my mind.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

Since Happy Hour is just the beginning of a Sommelier’s evening of drinking, I like to ease into it with the Sangria Hour at Jaleo DC.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

I buy most of my older bottles from Schneider’s of Capitol Hill and I buy a lot of exciting wines at Cork Market as well.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

I’m a freak for the Garides me Anitho (Sautéed Shrimp with dill, lemon, shallot and mustard) at Zaytinya with the Gaia Estate “Thalassitis” Assyrtiko. Seriously; it’s a stupid good pairing.

Sabrina Kroeger, ENO Wine Bar – Wine Director

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

The fantastic quality wines that are coming out of South Africa recently! We have a gorgeous Merlot blend by the glass called “Aspect” from Remhoogte Winery in Stellenbosch. The wine surprises me again every time I taste it! We also just picked up a few wines from a small family owned estate called Bouchard Finlayson – the winemaker Peter Finlayson is incredibly talented and is also growing some not so common varietals for South Africa such as Pinot Noir and Sangiovese – which he then blends together – the result is called “Hannibal” and is a really extraordinary wine!

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

Range (Friendship Heights) has a fantastic program – I might be biased because I’m a huge fan of Kathy Morgan, she’s a great inspiration to me!

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

I like the happy hour at Ripple in Cleveland park – from 5 to 6:30 they offer all wines by the glass for half price. They have a nice selection of wines by the glass, not overwhelming but some interesting choices that you can try during happy hour!

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

Definitely 1 West Dupont Circle Wines and Liquors – he has everything – and I literally mean everything! Not just wine, anything you want. I love the store and the staff that are super knowledgeable and helpful. When I bring a wine to a dinner party it depends who I go see because I know what all my friends like to drink so I’ll pick up a bottle of whatever they like because I love all wine!

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

At the moment I have to say it’s our Pork Meatballs that are served with a Coffee BBQ Sauce and sprinkled with cheddar, paired with the Ministry of the Vinterior Old Vine Zinfandel – goes perfectly with the BBQ sauce and is a match made in heaven!

Paul Carlson, Vinoteca, owner

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring? 

As always, with the coming of spring is the coming of rose season. Roses are so versatile, and so super delicious. I always look forward to the arrival of the roses in the spring, and by all accounts the 2014 vintage looks like it’s going to be awesome.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why? 

Cork: I really like their “Old World” wine focus which is my personal preference.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why? 

Vinoteca: where else can you get 20 wines with great variety for $5 a glass, AND 7 days a week?

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

I love picking up bottles at either Cork & Fork or Cork Market – they have a great selection of really unique wines. And what am I usually picking up to bring to dinner? Champagne, because it goes with everything!

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

This cold weather really has me wishing for spring so with that in mind, I would say my favorite is the Ganeta Rosé with our always popular Grilled Squid, which we serve with cilantro and orange. It’s awesome when the weather is warm, when you can enjoy it on our back Plaza, fresh off the outdoor grill (or now during the winter to give you a little taste of spring).

Joe Quinn, Wine Director – Proof

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

In winter, I turn to silky, aromatic red wines and I love the Nebbiolo-based wines of Piedmont in Northern Italy. Barolo and Barbaresco- especially with some age- are the wine equivalent of a fireplace. They are also pretty expensive; Nebbiolo from the broader Langhe region of Piedmont can offer a similar profile and tremendous value. In spring, I start getting excited about Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, which just has a dense-yet-refreshing texture and a beautiful floral aromatic edge. Can’t explain it. It tastes like spring.

 What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

I love the list at Plume in the Jefferson Hotel. It has great range and depth. If you wanna throw a paycheck at a bottle of wine you can do that and drink benchmark wines from great vintages in the distant past- but you can also find tons of spectacular wines for much less. Brent Kroll’s list at the Partisan is also a blast- beautiful old Riesling from the great producers of Germany, Austria and Alsace; fantastic southern Italian reds; exciting Greek wines, etc.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

I don’t know. I’m at work during happy hour.

You’re going to a dinner party- what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles to you keep coming back to?

I rarely drink the same thing twice, at least when I’m off duty. For me, the importer Weygandt Wines’ shop in Cleveland Park is a magical place, full of distinctive wines from dedicated growers striving to make honest wine that reflects the place it came from. It’s so much fun to look around in there.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

There’s a duck liver mousse on the menu that is pure evil. It’s rich, super silky, and has a touch of sea salt sprinkled on top. This dish loves Riesling, possibly the world’s greatest white wine variety. The wine that Gobelsburg in Austria’s Kamptal region made in 2013 from the Gaisberg vineyard- the reserve wine from this legendary vineyard site- is stunningly good and its combination of ripe, dense fruit and screaming high acidity are the perfect foil for the mousse.

Eric Rohleder, Owner, Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits

Cordial @ Union Market 2-12-2013.  Photo courtesy of Jason Dixson Photography.

What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

We’re pretty jazzed about Reds from the Duoro region in Portugal. Not to get too geeky, but the slatey soil gives the reds a smoky richness and robustness that we dig with winter/spring food and flavors like stews, chilis, BBQ, campfires, etc. Our favorite is the Conceito Contrasto Vinho Tinto Douro 2009 ($22.99) – From a young, rock star winemaker, Rita Ferreira, who has only be making (kickass) wine for a decade or so…it’s a rich, red blend that over delivers with flavors of crushed dark berries, cherry tobacco, and smoky herbs.

For whites, South African Chenin Blancs have been coming up nice, with a range of styles from crisp, bone-dry wines to richer, full-bodied flavors. Our favorite for the money is the Ngumu Chenin Blanc South Africa 2013 ($12.99) -This white is from the Western Cape of South Africa. Flavors of golden pear, yellow apple, white pepper, and lemon zest. Kinda tropical, but delicious with Asian fare/flavors.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?
I have to go with Red Hen. Sebastian Zutant has a pretty sexy line-up of wines that have never failed the flavors of the food. The $$/bottle is also stellar for the quality of wines, and how perfectly they pair with the menu. Also, don’t hesitate to ask Sebastian (or their servers) to order for you, their recommendations are pretty kickass.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?
Sona Creamery has a pretty tasty happy hour. You can get wine and cheese pairings, and wine flights. They also have a well curated selection of Washington State, Oregon, and Cali wines you won’t be able to find most places, and $2 off BTG.

You’re going to a dinner party – what bottles do you keep coming back to?
Bourbon? Oh, it has to be wine? Ok, here’s our favorites for sparkling, white, and red…

Finca Valldosera Cava Brut Nature Penedes NV ($21.99) – Spanish Cava perfect for toasting and celebrating anything, really. Blend of typical varieties of cava, along with a small percentage of Subirat Parent, which gives it complexity and roundness. Nurtured for more than 24 months, it offers an aroma of sweet bread, smoked nuts and varied white fruits. Small and persistent bubbles, smooth texture and good balance in the mouth.

Broadbent Vinho Verde NV ($11.99) – A fresh, spritzy Portuguese white wine with flavors of green apple, lemon/lime zest, and white pineapple.

Louis Max Pinot Noir Beaucharme 2011 ($19.99) – Just a super easy Bourgogne rouge to sip. Flavors of dark cherry, kirsch, and hints of lime and mint. A plump wine with a lot of fruit, and a delicate note of smoky vanilla. Great crowd pleaser.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on a DC restaurant’s menu?
I’m a big Sherry fan, so I’d have to go with Mockingbird Hill’s “Mushroom, Idiazabal cheese, rosemary and piquillo peppers” sandwich with a glass, or 3, of their El Maestro Sierra 15 year Oloroso. The sherry has a hazelnut and brown sugar thing going on that brings out a lot of the smoky earthiness of the mushrooms and Idiazabal, but with a slight salted caramel finish. Tasty stuff.

Justin Abad, Co-Owner & Wine Director, Cashion’s Eat Place

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?
I am most excited about the a new Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata we just put on the list at Cashion’s called “Synthesi,” by Paternoster Winery. It’s big, gamey, muscular, and the perfect red for heavy winter dishes (think braised game and tomato sauces).
What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?
Proof and Red Hen are my current favorite wine programs. Both because they are so carefully curated that I can trust Joe Quinn (at Proof) or Sebastian Zutant (Red Hen) to just pick something for me. Being able to go to a place and not worry about the quality of their selections (w/o necessarily being irresponsibly expensive) is such a huge thing for me.
 What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?
Vinoteca has a great wine happy hour I’ve always enjoyed visiting.
You’re going to a dinner party- what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles to you keep coming back to?
I really like Sherry’s on Calvert St in Woodley park- great selection with fair prices. My go to wine for a dinner party: Adami Prosecco. Everyone loves a nice sparkling wine.
What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?
My favorite pairing is the Oenos Xenomavro (Greek red) with Chef’s gnocchi and wild boar ragu.

Casper Rice, Beverage Director & Sommelier, Fiola

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 What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?
Wines from some new and seasoned producers in the Sonoma Coast and Santa Barbara. They were a secret for awhile, but Jon Bonne let the cat out of the bag with his book ‘The New California Wine’, and hit the nail on the head about these incredible game changers. Made in the New World, using old world philosophies, and producing wines of incredible balance, nuance and character yet…distinctly California. The fruit is there, the acidity is there, the minerality is there..what more could you want?
What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?
Maybe it’s from my wine roots of more classically curated lists but I’ve really enjoyed the list at Plume. Incredibly comprehensive for its nod to the classics, rare and hard to find fare, along with its incredible values. The other list that has been a treat to explore is Barcelona. I love Spanish wines, and it’s an area where I find myself least knowledgeable so everytime I discover something new.
 What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?
To be honest, I’ve never been able to make it to “happy hour” because of my work schedule. It’s always been this mythical place that I’ve heard about but will never see. Nevertheless, I’ve heard that Proof and ENO Wine Bar have some great happy hours. If I could pick a happy hour wine to drink. Champagne…
 
You’re going to a dinner party- what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles to you keep coming back to?
Wine retailer: unWined, off of King Street in Alexandria. The first time I walked into the store, I was expecting a somewhat generic wine selection. The second I looked at the shelves, I was confused and excited. An unconspicuous wine shop, in the Bradley Shopping Center, had amazing wines that I haven’t been able to get my hands on since I left California. The owner (Vanessa) is incredibly knowledgeable, and curates an incredible selection at two different retail shops.

Sam Haltiwanger, sommelier – Rasika

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

For the winter I’ve been on an Italian kick.  I’ve been loving wines like the 2010 Antoniolo Nebbiolo from Gattinara, Italy, and the 2013 Terlano “Winkl” Sauvignon Blanc from Alto-Adige, Italy.  In the spring I’m looking forward to some fun whites like Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece, and reds like Pinot Noir from New Zealand.
What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?
Iron Gate.  Brent Kroll has curated an exciting and delicious wine list.  On my first visit I was happily surprised to see fun and esoteric Southern Italian wines like Nerello Mascalese from Sicily.
What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?
Unfortunately I don’t have one.  Not much time for happy hour in my line of work.
 
You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?
I’ve always been a big fan of Calvert Woodley, and I don’t think you can ever go wrong bringing some bubbly to a party.  The Blanc de Noir by Gruet from New Mexico is always a great buy for the price (I think I usually see it in the mid-teens).
What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?
The Tandoori Lamb Chop cooked medium-rare with a side of Malai Palak and a bottle of the 2012 Jean-Michel Stephan Côte Rôtie.

Vanessa French, Co-Founder – DC Wine Week

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

Every spring I am thinking pink and look forward to the roses. I am a big fan of Virginia wines — Linden Vineyards, Boxwood Winery and Zephaniah Farm Vineyard make some great wines and producing some of my favorite roses. In the past few years, Virginia wine has been up and coming and award winning. So if you are big in buying local and supporting local farmers — here’s your chance. Roses are great because they go with everything from Thai to a cheese plate to pizza.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

There are so many options in DC for great wine programs, for all budgets and in nearly every neighborhood. I look for good food, nice wines with wine directors who aren’t pretentious. Some of my favorites are Room 11, Sonoma Bar and Restaurant and ENO Wine Bar.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

What I look for in a great happy hour spot — nice wines, a heavy pour and a great menu for dinner. I have two picks – Dino’s Grotto has always been a long time favorite for happy happy and beyond. Owner Dean Gold does a great job with his wine picks and food pairings. He is always striving for local, organic and fresh with everything on the menu. Another plus is that he is an amazing story teller so if you can get him to stop by your table – do it!

I am half Greek, so I have to give a shout out to Kellari Taverna and their amazing happy hour. Wines from Greece have received a lot of attention in the last few years. They are very delicious and a nice alternative to the usual fare. With both spots you can’t go wrong with the wine and food.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

My go to is usually where I pick up the meal and that means Whole Foods. I am always on the hunt for the amazing $15 and under or $20 and under bottle of wine. I use the wine app Delectable to keep track. It’s super easy and allows me to upload an image of the label from my phone from there I am able to rate and make my own notes. One of my all time favorites, that I constantly go back to is one that Dean Gold from Dino’s Grotto actually introduced to me — Lazio Cesanese, Cantine Volpetti. It is well priced red that is nice to sip alone or paired with food. I’ve had the 2011 – 2013 and the taste has stayed consistent. I’ve had it with everything from pasta to BBQ to chocolate cake. It’s great to serve at dinner parties, give to a hostess or just keep for yourself! I also really love the bright label — not that you ever want to judge a wine by the label but my creative side appreciates it.

If you are looking for more guidance, Cordial Wine in Union Market is a very nice experience. They have lots of great options, many are in the $20 range and the staff is extremely friendly and helpful. And they carry Virginia wine!

Michael and Michelle Warner, Owners –  DCanter, A Wine Boutique

Photo courtesy of Moki Media, Laura Ford Photography

Photo courtesy of Moki Media, Laura Ford Photography

What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

We’ve had a lot of fun recently exploring the wines of Eastern Europe. The region’s been making wine for 4,000 years, but we are just now discovering its history. It’s chock full of nearly unpronounceable indigenous varietals like Vranec, Kallmet, and (our favorite) Mavrud. Each one is a unique departure from the mass-produced and market-tested wine you find in every corner store. Our favorite aspect of these wines is that they all seem to pair so naturally with the hearty and rich foods we all crave during the winter.

For spring, we are looking forward to getting in some more rosé wines. We particularly love the rosé blends made with bold varietals like Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Primitivo, and Tempranillo. They make delicious patio sippers and picnic pairings.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

We love stopping by Rose’s Luxury after we close the shop. Its wine list is exactly what we look for: brief, well chosen and a solid mix of classic with the eclectic.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

It’s usually the half empty bottle we have hidden behind our check out counter. Sadly, we never make it out of the shop early enough to check out the happy hours around town.

You’re going to a dinner party – what bottles do you keep coming back to?

Eclectic is always fun, but we inevitably find our way back to classics, like red blends. An ingredient has to be of rare and of exceptional quality to be served all by itself, and it’s kind of the same with wine. You would be disappointed with a chef who wouldn’t season your meal, and it’s the same with winemakers. They have hundreds of grape varietals in their pantry, and blended wines usually provide the most complexity and the best price-to-quality ratio.

Our favorite for a special occasion is the Buoncristiani O.P.C. – a Napa Valley blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Syrah. For a casual night with friends, it’s hard to do better than the Siegel 1234 – a Chilean blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carménère.

Jen Semo, Beverage Manager – The Source

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

For Spring, bubbles, bubbles, bubbles,(cremant, blanc de noirs, sekt) and Gruner

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

I’m picky. If I could merge the programs at Proof and the Jefferson with my own, I would be happy. They both have a lot of vertical selections from different producers, and I’m crazy about the Madeira selection at the Jefferson.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

Schneider’s, hands down. The knowledgable staff and selection are key for me. If you’re looking for something not on the shelf, they may have it in the basement. Also, it’s so tiny, you get to do the aisle dance with everyone in the store.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

For our Valentine’s tasting menu we did a passion fruit panna cotta with Moscato d’Asti. The Moscato was a perfect match for the sweetness level, and also full of peach, apricot, passionfruit, and other tropical fruit, which played off the actual fruit in the panna cotta.

Julian Mayor, Head Sommelier – Bourbon Steak DC

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

It’s fun to get excited about the new kid in town, even if that kid isn’t new in other towns. For example, wines of Portugal, Greece, and South Africa, while they’ve been around forever, are still making inroads in the DC wine scene. The number of great quality wines at even better prices are what will make these selections stand out in comparison to others. And as always, as we move into spring, I am most excited about the new crop of rosés that will start to flood the market. At home, rosé is an all-year-long wine for us, but it’s in the spring that the variety just explodes in shops and restaurants. As much as I love southern French rosés, I’m also looking forward to tasting new ones from Austria and New York State.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

For depth and strength of a wine list, I truly admire the lists at Marcel’s, Proof, and Plume. When I am in the mood to learn something new and not break the bank, I head over to 14th Street and cozy up to the bars at Cork, Estadio, and Doi Moi. Working at Bourbon Steak, I am always in contact with iconic wine brands and the most sought after grape varieties, but I know that when I want to be surprised and try something I’ve never had before, these last three spots provide variety and value in a comfortable atmosphere. I also have to mention Iron Gate for its focus on Greek and Southern Italian wines. There, I know that I can say something like, “tonight I’m in the mood for a lean and earthy white, similar to Chardonnay, with some weight to it but not buttery,” and I’ll be surprised by a wine I’ve never heard of before but fits my description perfectly.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

Our neighbors at ENO Wine Bar on M Street do it right, because they not only have $5 wine specials (on tap), but they provide a cozy and inviting place to sip affordable wine and enjoy some sandwiches, cheeses, and chocolates. I love seeing how their small staff is so engaged and eager to learn about wine. They are also great supporters of Virginia wine and have a great selection from just across the river. It’s great to taste through some local wines and find the wineries you would like to visit based on what you tasted here.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

There are so many great retailers in DC, but I consistently return to Pearson’s on Wisconsin Ave in Glover Park and Weygandt on Connecticut Ave in Cleveland Park. I live in Glover Park and both stores are close and convenient for me. That’s the greatest area where I see wine shops succeeding: becoming their neighborhood’s spot for wine. David at Pearson’s and Tim at Weygandt have great staff members and a wonderful selection, so that you can easily find that everyday affordable wine or get that special bottle for a nice dinner, a gift, or to lay down for a while. Speaking of affordable bottles, they are perfect for dinner parties, and the ones I keep coming back to are often from southern France (one of my favorite wine regions) and Spain. Grenache/Garnacha is a full-flavored and friendly grape that makes crowd-pleasing wines. They can be rich and dark like a Syrah, or they can be elegant and lively like a Pinot Noir – but at a much better price! Anyone at Pearson’s or Weygandt can help guide you to the right bottle for your group and your wallet.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

Our menu changes often, but one standby that has never changed is our tuna tartare. You’d think I might get tired of having seen the same dish for six years – and I do – but all that goes away as soon as a glass of lightly off-dry German Riesling is served along side it. The combination of fresh raw tuna with sesame oil, chile pepper, mint, and asian pear is just perfect with the Riesling that breaks down the richness of the fish, tames the heat from pepper, matches the flavors of the asian pear, and also leaves your palate refreshed and wanting for more. Shame it’s only an appetizer. And while most people default to Cabernet when it comes to ordering wine with steak, I’d have to say that our Syrah, which is a special bottling made by Qupé Winery, is the ideal pairing with any of our steaks. It’s rich and flavorful enough to stand up to grilled meats, but also offers that clean and refreshing quality that makes you want to go back for yet another bite of steak and another sip of wine.

Joshua Pauley, Sommelier, Black Restaurant Group

(BlackSalt, Black’s Bar & Kitchen, Black Market Bistro, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black Jack and Republic)

Photo by Scott Suchman

Photo by Scott Suchman

What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

I look forward to winter each year because we see an increase in red wine sales. Our restaurants are seafood focused and our wines sales reflect that. I would say about 70% of the bottles sold in our restaurants are white wines. During the winter months we see that percentage go down quite a bit. The cold weather brings changes to the food on our menus as well. We start to see more earthy and rich flavors on the menus. The fish is still the focus on the plate but the cooking methods and various preparations become more intense. This allows for more red wines to be paired with each dish. Pinot Noir sells all year long, but in the winter months, we see an increase in Rhone varietals like Grenache and Syrah. These are two of my favorite varietals, which I feel people aren’t drinking enough of. This is the time of year I can bring these wines out of the cellar and show our guests just how delicious they are and how well they pair with a lot of our food.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

I have to say that the wine program at Plume in the Jefferson Hotel is pretty ridiculous. I could spend an hour just looking at that list. The list is so deep, with a very professional staff, and a beautiful space to go with it.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

I can’t say I’ve been to a wine happy hour in the city due to the fact that I’m usually working at that time! Therefore, I’m pretty partial to the Happy Hour at BlackSalt and Pearl Dive. The food is amazing and the drinks are cheap!

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

My favorite retailer in the city is MacArthur Beverages. They have been around forever and have the most knowledgeable staff in the area. These guys are serious about their wines and they are always more than happy to guide you to that perfect bottle. There are wines here to satisfy any budget. Dinner party wines need to be versatile and obviously food friendly. I will usually bring a few different bottles. Grower Champagne is always nice. Producers like J. Lassalle and Gaston Chiquet are two of my favorites. For a white, I would choose something with a nice balance of fruit and acid and little to no oak. Chablis is my go to white to please a range of palates. Producers like Savary, Louis Michel, and Brocard produce wines at all price levels. Red wines need to have a balance of fruit and acid, moderate alcohol levels, and well integrated tannins to pair with a range of food. Once again, I go to the Rhone. Grenache based wines from Gigondas are ideal for the dinner table. Producers like Pallieres, Saint Cosme, and Santa Duc all produce good examples

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

The Bouillabaise has been on BlackSalt’s menu since day one. Monkfish, shrimp, mussels, and scallops all come together in a deliciously intense shellfish and saffron broth. For this dish, I pair Clos Saint Magdelaine Rose from Cassis, France. Cassis is a tiny little fishing village on the southern Mediterranean coast of France. The vineyards at Clos Sainte Magdelaine are literally surrounded on three sides by the brilliant blue Mediterranean. This wine has the perfect amount of fruit, minerality, and balancing acidity. It only makes sense to pair a classic dish from the same region. Enjoying these together in the dead of winter here in DC transports me to that sleepy Mediterranean fishing village and makes me long for spring!

 

Steve Monson, Wine Maker, Early Mountain Vineyards, Madison, Va.

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

We are very excited to release our 2014 Rosé in March. Like our 2013, it is a very elegant wine, but we got more creative with blending this year and the wine shows more texture which should let it pair nicely with fresh spring produce.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why? (**As per our conversation, this response is focused on Charlottesville)

I really enjoy the wine list at Parallel 38. The variety of small plates would make choosing a single wine for a meal difficult, but with each wine on their extensive list available by the glass, finding the right match for every course is fun and easy.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why? (**As per our conversation, this response is focused on Charlottesville)

On the rare occasion I make it home in time for happy hour, it seems like my wife is always at Commonwealth Skybar. Overlooking the mall, it is hard to find a place more evocative of the Charlottesville lifestyle. The new “Wine Maker Mondays” is a great way to get to know local wines.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

The Wine Warehouse is my go to shop; it’s a well curated collection and it’s hard to make a bad choice. I am slowly wandering through Italian wine and I’ve recently been on an Alto Adige kick.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

We work closely with our chef, Jen Crovato, during menu changes so the food reflects our new wine offerings. She does a great job composing salads (and I am not the kind to normally get excited about salad) which pair really well with the herbal notes in our Block Eleven and Rosé.

Chris McNeal, Beverage Director – 701 Restaurant

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

Crosby Roamann has a wonderful Rose de Sanganèe made from first press merlot and aged in Kentucky Oak Barrels. They only made 25 cases this season, so it will be hard to find (outside of our restaurant).

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

Right now, I love Partisan’s BTG program. They have a wide selection on tap, plus they focus on a different region and style for more premium pours each month. I’ll plunk down some serious change to drink old Barolo and Bordeaux by the glass.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

Proof has a great wine happy hour and it’s at a good price point.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

I don’t live in the city so I usually hit up total beverage in Maryland. They have a huge selection. One of my favorite wines is Château Simian Châteauneuf-du-Pape les Grandes Grenachieres d’Hippolyte. It’s almost 100% Grenache but is very versatile with food.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

Short Rib Ravioli with Cellar Cecilio Negre Priorat. It’s one of the oldest registered wineries in Priorat and produces this rich, unfiltered Grenache/Cabernet blend. It has a brightness to it that you don’t get from new world wines.

Francesco Amodeo, Beverage Director – Lupo Verde

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

Aglianico Rose’ and Nerello Mascalese

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

Iron gate. Its fun and eclectic. Great selection that pairs well with their foods

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

Montepulciano d abbruzzo. Easy to drink and it’s has lots of flavor and character

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

Batch 13 and I go with Marisa Cuomo Furore Rosso

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

Eliche with Neapolitan Meat Ragu paired with Mater Domini Salice Salentino

Michael King, Beverage Director – Bibiana

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

There is a new bottling from Fontodi called Dino and is made with 100% Sangiovese which remains 12 months in the tank with the skins. This wine is a tribute to the owners father and I found it to be a great example of what a supertuscan should be.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

I don’t have the opportunity to get out all that much but I really like the beverage program at Ripple when I have the chance to get there. They have a great selection of Gamay and this is an under appreciated wine in DC. You can get a great quality bottle of Gamay for $50-60, and the same quality wine from a more popular region/grape variety would be double in price.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

My go to wine retailer would have to be MacArthur Beverages because Phil is great. They directly import quite a lot of wine that you can’t get elsewhere and they always have something new to try.
Bottles I keep going back to, well for a dinner party I would most likely pick champagne and it will most likely be Delamotte. I love their champagne and it is very under appreciated.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

Currently my favorite dish / wine pairing would have to be our Bistecca Tagliata which is Grilled Prime Ribeye, Local Farm Vegetables Bone Marrow Salsa Verde, Anchovy Butter, with a glass of 2010 Paolo Scavino Barolo. The aproachable earthyness and femanine fruit works well with the dish.

Aleksandar Ajdar, Sommelier, The Oval Room

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

I’m most excited about white wines made from Marsanne, Assyrtiko, and Riesling from The Finger Lakes. For Reds, I’m totally into Red Burgundies from The Cote Chalonnaise, Aglianico del Vulture and Saperavi from the Republic of Georgia.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

My favorite wine program in the city is Proof. They have an amazing selection of Burgundy. My favorite in the area is Woodbury Kitchen in Baltimore. Petrus by the glass is a real eye opener.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

My favorite wine happy hour is Beau Thai in my neighborhood of Mt. Pleasant. Great food and half price wines by the glass. Plus they serve Refreshing Finger Lakes Whites!

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

Weygandt Wines in Cleveland Park is unbelievable. Great, Knowledgeable staff and small production wines. Their Austrian portfolio is awesome! My go to dinner party wines are Riesling and Cotes du Rhone Reds.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

My favorite pairing is our Venison with Huckleberry Jus and Black Trumpet Mushroom with Domaine Charvin Cotes du Rhone. The deep dark fruit of the wine makes a perfect texture match and the spiciness of the wine plays of the earthy qualities of the mushrooms.

Kristi Green, Beverage Manager, Osteria Morini DC

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

This winter I’ve been most excited by Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (specifically the one produced by Belvedere Colonna)–it’s a warm, rich, red with bold dark fruit tones and just the right level of noticeable tannin, produced in the town of Montepulciano, in the Southeastern Tuscany. This is perfect wine for winter: pair with short ribs or a meaty pasta for the ideal comfort food experience. Heading into spring, I’m looking forward to rosé season! My favorites are Sangiovese rosés–preferably Italian, although the US is producing some fabulous Sangio rosé these days as well. My other love of the pink wine world is Vinho Verde rosé from Portugal.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

It’s a tie, and a vastly different tie at that: Proof and Iron Gate. I love Proof’s list most because they pour truly exceptional wines in glasses and tasting pours so that guests may try wines that are typically available only by the bottle in restaurants, or at a prohibitively expensive price point in the retail arena. I love the Iron Gate list because it is unabashedly what the food requires: it’s all Greek/Sicilian/Sardinian and there’s not a Chardonnay or Cabernet in sight (perhaps an Agiorgitiko/Cab blend or two?). I love the way this encourages the guest to be lead through the menus by the staff–they are then able to get the guests excited about the way the food and wine from that part of the world work together.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

Vinoteca: $5 glasses of wine and some super tasty small plates–that, and Vinoteca still feels like home after spending so many nights behind their bar so many years ago.

You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?

For dinner party wines, I always head to Schneider’s on Capitol Hill. My go-tos are Juan Gil Monastrell, a bold spicy Spanish red from Jumilla; and Domaine des Baumard Savennieres, a round, floral, mineral-driven Loire Valley white.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

My favorite pairing opportunity on the menu at Morini is our Cappelletti pasta, filled with truffled ricotta, and Ceretto Arneis. Arneis is native to the Piedmont (my favorite wine region in Italy) and is a crisp, floral white–though it is also notoriously difficult to produce. Ceretto’s 2013 iteration of this varietal shows slightly “frizzante” with good acid and citrus-driven aromatics that complete the already fantastic Cappelletti experience.

Diana Roderique, Sommelier, Trummer’s On Main

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?
I am most excited about Linden’s 2012 Hardscrabble Chardonnay and recently released 2008 Late Harvest Petit Manseng. Jim Law has been making benchmark wines in Virginia for years, and this 2012 vintage is a stellar vintage with lots of green apple, pear, minerality and complexity. It’s like a Burgundy 1er Cru! The Petit Manseng is like the most delicious dessert wine – like Pineapple Candy in a glass. I look forward to pairing it will a pineapple dessert this winter or early spring.
What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?
My favorite wine program is at Le Diplomate in Washington, DC. Last time I went there I got to enjoy some celeb spotting, and at the same time had a France vs. Argentina Malbec showdown from their Wines by the Glass list.  You can always get a great recommendation from Erik Segelbaum who has amazing wine descriptors for days!
What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?
Proof is my go to spot. You can head there before a Caps game and enjoy their house wines for $5 which change frequently from 5:30-7:00pm. Most recently, they have been featuring a crisp and mineral-driven Colombard from Cotes de Gasgone and a fruity and earthy super velvety Grenache from Cataluña Spain.
You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?
I stop by the Clifton Wine Shop across the street from Trummer’s On Main. They have a wide selection of wines with special attention to small producers throughout the world. The winemaker from Clos Saron, from Sierra Foothills just did a tasting there. They make exceptional Pinot Noir and some mineral-driven Syrahs. They make natural wines and even foot stomp the grapes, old school style.
What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?
My favorite dish is the Bourbon Glazed Sweetbreads with Smoked Mayo and Asian Pears to be paired with an aged Spatlese Riesling Sobernheimer Marbach from Hexamer in the Nahe region of Germany. We have their 2003 vintage on our list for a steal at $105/bottle.

Woong Chang, Beverage Director, & Hilary Smith, Longtime Server, Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring? 
Hilary Smith, longtime server at Sonoma: We’ve had a cold winter here in Washington, DC, so our full-bodied reds have been very popular with guests looking to warm up from the winter chill. Of these, our Baby Blue Bordeaux Blend from Blue Rock Vineyards in California. It is rich, velvety, and perfect with our cheese selections and housemade jams.
Woong Chang, beverage director: We are currently pouring Copain “Tous Ensemble” which is a 100% Syrah from Mendocino County in CA.  Copain has always been one of my favorite rose producers from CA because I’ve always found their wines to be very elegant with lots of finesse.  It was no different with this Syrah.  They took a big masculine variety like Syrah and managed to turn it into this feminine and pretty wine.  That takes skills.
What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?
Hilary Smith, longtime server at Sonoma: Perhaps I’m a bit partial, but I think the wine program at Sonoma is an excellent display of the variety in styles of wine between both the Old and New Worlds. We offer fifty different wines by the glass, so there is always something new and different to try. Come on in and see what were pouring this week!
Woong Chang, beverage director: Oh gee, this is a difficult question to answer.  At the risk of pissing off my friends, I’m going to plead the fifth on this one.
What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?
Hilary Smith, longtime server at Sonoma: Being a restaurant employee, I rarely get to happy hour since I am most often hosting them at Sonoma. But when I do get out, Dickson Wine Bar on U Street has a really great deal. They rotate their wines offered, so you always get to try something new.
Woong Chang, beverage director: Quite frankly, working in the restaurant industry, I never, if rarely ever, get to go out to happy hours.  I would love to explore all the happy hours (not just the wine) that DC has to offer.
You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to? 
Hilary Smith, longtime server at Sonoma: I’m a big fan of sparkling wines, especially well crafted domestic bubbly, so a favorite producer of mine is Schramsburg Vineyards in Calistoga, CA. They produce elegant and light sparkling wines from chardonnay and pinot noir that pair well with almost any first course I can come up with. I recently brought a bottle of their Blanc de Noirs home for Christmas breakfast and it was a huge hit.
Woong Chang, beverage director: I like Pearson’s a lot for their variety, but I never go very often because it’s so far from where I live.  Living in Capitol Hill, Schneider’s is my go-to spot.  I almost always resort to Champagne.  In my opinion, it is by far the most food friendly wine out there, and who doesn’t like bubbles?  But, quite frankly, I bring spirits to dinner parties more often than I bring wine.  There’s always abundance of wine at dinner parties, but never enough bourbon, tequila, or a really nice aged rum.
What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?
Hilary Smith, longtime server at Sonoma: Sonoma Restaurant is well known for our homemmade pastas, and the tagliatelle, served with a mushroom and duck confit ragu sauce is my personal favorite. It pairs very well with the Negroamaro we carry from Villa Mottura in Salento, Italy. The sauce is rich and earthy, and the wine complements with dark fruit and spice notes.
Woong Chang, beverage director: Currently, I’m digging our red Burgundy pour, 2012 Prosper Mafoux Cote de Nuits, with our Duck Ragu Pappardelle.  The earthy under-layer of the Burgundy really brings out all the umami flavors of the mushrooms in the ragu.  On a cold winter night, this is my idea of comfort food.  Secretly though, I’ve been trying to get my chef to put fried chicken on the menu so I can pair it with Champagne.  It’s my dirty little secret and an all time favorite pairing.

Cesar Varela, sommelier – Del Campo

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?

Catena Alta Chardonnay from Mendoza 2013. Catena Alta retails for $30 and delivers high quality at that price point. I am a fan of oaky Chardonnays when they are well made and in balance. The wine has very intense yellow and green apple aromas followed but a hint of toast and vanilla supported by a layer of minerality that is more obvious on the palate.
I had the chance to try some 2005 vintage recently and I was surprised by the aging potential of the wine. This is one elegant and balanced Chardonnay from South America that is the perfect bridge between a Traditional oaky buttery style Chardonnay from Napa Valley and a crisp Chablis from burgundy.

What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?

I really like the wine program at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, our neighbor. They have iconic wine producers from Italy, United States and France and a nice collection of hard-to-find vintages from those producers. Even though I can’t afford to buy most of those wines it is fun to be able to see them in print.

What is your favorite wine happy hour in the city and why?

Clyde’s late night happy hour. That’s when I’m off work and actually get to drink for pleasure.

You’re going to a dinner party -what retailer and bottles do you keep coming back to?

I like to bring a Cabernet Sauvignon. Usually Crios by Susana Balbo. I buy it at Wholefoods.

What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?

Our rolled wagyu skirt steak with fried egg served over smoked hollandaise and asparagus paired with our Lamborn Zinfandel from Howell Mountain, Napa valley

Sandy Block MW, Director of Beverage – Legal Sea Foods

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring and why?
 In a word: Spain. Nothing I see offers the same flavor excitement for the dollar or versatility with food today Spanish wine does. The reds, in particular those made with Garnacha or Tempranillo, are loaded with nuance and textures that complement a wide variety of seafood and fish dishes. Try Borsao “Tres Picos” Garnacha from the Campo de Borja and you’ll see what I mean.
You’re going to a dinner party – what bottles do you keep coming back to? 
Champagne. Never out of style, always delicious, and classically balanced to complement hors d’oeuvres that are usually served to kick off a dinner party. Always with a  great story attached as well. The Gosset Brut “Excellence” is a stunner with rich Pinot influenced flavors and an autolytic toastiness. It’s made by an artisan producer that traces its origins to being the first house in the region, founded in the late 16th Century.
What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?
 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2012 (available in a full or half bottle) with the Grilled Faroe Island Salmon and a side order of Roasted Mushrooms.

Daisuke Utagawa, Partner – Sushiko

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What wines are you most excited about this winter/spring?
 Burgundy wines.
What is your favorite wine program in the city and why?
 Bistro Provence. Because it seems that wines are selected based on deep understanding of their own cuisine. Wines are part of the meal, not an independent experience.
You’re going to a dinner party – what is your go-to wine retailer/what bottles do you keep coming back to?
 Calvert Woodley/really depends on what is being served, but I like wines that shows food well while showing itself well.
What is your favorite dish/wine pairing on your restaurant’s menu?
 Sushi/sashimi with red burgundy wines from good producers. Particularly Chambolle Musigny, and Volnay.

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AND THAT IS ALL FOLKS – leave us your wine recommendations in the comments, and happy wine drinking.