Sarita Cheaves is a DC native with a passion for food and wine. When not writing, Sarita devotes her time to building her brand, Vine Me Up, where she plans events and discovers wine throughout the Mid-Atlantic states.
Free City Sips
One of the major perks of a great wine shop is free wine tasting. When I became serious about developing my palate, I visited local wine shops to discover new wines. Wine shops typically have distributors come in and showcase new wines from their portfolio. They also have tastings to promote sales and to keep customers engaged. Once I discovered a handful of the tastings were scheduled on Fridays, I made it a monthly ritual to make it to as many free tastings as I could in one evening. I would map out the locations and coordinate the times. Luckily in DC, many of the wine shops are conveniently near Metro stops. It is very easy hop on and off the train. During the week, I catch the train from Northeast DC to my full time job in Rockville, MD, a suburb outside of the city. So my journey through wine started on commutes home. I ride the Metro Red line from White Flint Metro Station (Rockville) and work my way into the city.
Paul’s Wine and Spirits
5205 Wisconsin Ave, Washington, DC 20015
Friendship Heights Metro
This wine shop is a true wine resource. Paul’s, a family owned business, has been providing the Chevy Chase area with quality wines for many years. Their tastings are infamous. On some Fridays, there will be 3 different distributers pouring wine from all over the world. Sometimes I spot couples kicking off their date night with a wine tasting at Paul’s. Regulars will even bring their own wine glasses. I tasted 4 French wines and went home with 2.
Cleveland Park Wine & Spirits
3423 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
Cleveland Park Metro
My second stop was Cleveland Park Wines, located in the semi-residential portion of the city. Like Paul’s, this wine shop is family owned. Owner, Anthony “Tony” Quinn has been serving this community for over 20 years and treats customers like family. Tony loves to promote local wines, especially from Maryland, Virginia and New York. During the tasting, I was introduced to more wonderful French wines & tasted my first Armagnac.
Cork & Fork
1522 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Dupont Circle Metro
After a short metro ride, I arrived at Cork and fork, a wine shop fairly new to the busy 14th street. The owners are a French couple, Dominique and Anna Landragin, who decided to share their wine selections with DC and their first location in Bethesda. Cork and Fork is a very sophisticated wine shop and has the tastings to match. I sipped an array of beautiful wines from the most stunning crystal glasses.
1724 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
U Street/ Cardozo Metro
Batch 13 is a wine shop that focuses on small batch labels. Also located on 14th Street, this shop has more of an industrial feel and is known for its 2 levels of wine, spirits and beer. The staff is knowledgeable and can highlight a wide range of unique wine selections. You can find anything from a California Cabernet to a Georgia Rkatsiteli and even a golden Tokaji from Hungary. I tasted great California wines and I bought a bottle that I will share on Thanksgiving.
Cork Market & Tasting Room
Cork Market – 1805 14th Street NW
Cork Wine Bar 1720 14th Street
Cork Market and Wine Bar are local favorites. In fact, Cork was one of the first wine bars in the Logan Circle area. The Market and Wine bar are in different locations, barely a block apart. Cork is the quintessential wine shop with a great wine selection, cheese, baked goods, gourmet candy and gifts. I tasted an elegant Sauvignon Blanc from Napa and I completed my journey with dinner at Cork’s wine bar across the street.
In case you want take your own City Sipping Tour, here are a few suggestions:
- Take the Metro. I tasted a total of 18 wines. Those sips add up quickly. You will feel the affects of the alcohol after the 2nd stop. Also, parking in DC can be stressful. Your night will be much more enjoyable if you catch the train and walk.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet for hours. I started my journey at 4:30 and sat down for dinner at 7:30.
- Bring water and a snack. Again, those sips add up. Stay hydrated and bring a granola bar.
- Map your stops and check tasting hours. Map out your wine stops so you are going in one direction. It will make the trip smoother. Some wine shops are consistent with tasting times but they can change due to private events or holiday specials. Check the website or call to confirm.
- Sign up for newsletters. Most wine shops have an email list. They will notify customers when tastings occur. There is almost always a theme and the wines are usually listed.
- Keep an open mind. Wine shops come in different styles. Some will pour wine in plastic cups at the cashier counter and others will have crystal glasses and full bar. Try your best to keep your attention on the wine.
If you choose this route, here are some great places to dine after tasting:
1825 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, http://www.richardsandoval.com/masa14/
Small plates. Asian & Latin cousine
1818 14th Street NW Washington, DC 20009, http://www.tedsbulletin.com
Breakfast, lunch & dinner with a urban diner feel
1901 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Pizza and cocktails
Busboys & Poets
2021 14th St, NW Washington, D.C. 20009
Seasonal cuisine with a healthy spin.
Stay tuned for my next journey of city sips.