FOOD: Wine Dinner Bust

February 1, 2013
Special to the Falls Church Times

Oh where, oh where have all the wine dinners gone? Long time passing, but the economy has shifted the trends on how we explore and sample wine these days. For those of you who love to seek out a great wine dinner at a fabulous restaurant, or just your neighborhood joint, you might notice a trend of slim pickings. Blame it on the economy. Most restaurants may be reluctant to forge ahead with costly, time-consuming endeavors, such as the proverbial wine dinner. So, what alternatives are left to food and wine hounds looking for a bargain and the services offered at exclusive wine dinners? Educational wine classes (usually accompanied with food).

Even though a wine dinner is the perfect venue for a restaurant to strut its stuff with cool food art, inspired wine and food pairings, and perhaps a chance to meet  the celebrity wine maker, trendy “small-batch” wine tastings are sprouting up in its place. More casual settings with less emphasis on “dinero” allow retail shops and restaurants more elbow room to showcase 4-8 wines in a more fast-paced setting. When you nix elaborate food courses upwards of five or more, fine cutlery, white table cloths, massive amounts of glassware, and heavy wait staff, you can become more creative with the idea “less is more.”

What to look for around town:

Red, White and Bleu in Falls Church launches SAVE-HOUR Monday, February 4th. This play on words for savor is all about informed wine tastings led by an official sommelier and captivating themes that vary each month.  The tastings only cost $10, and the best part is the $10 is applied to your wine purchase that evening. Featured foods sold in the shop add highlights to the tastings while also adding the food pairing factor.

Arlington Cinema Draft House may not be reinventing the wheel for 2013, but you can’t beat this deal of $1 wine tastings presented by the Washington Wine Academy while you enjoy a movie and some chilled out pub food. Some people buy up to 10 tickets and still walk out remembering the flick.

Arrowines in Arlington offers top-notch classes and wine tastings that are always sponsored by experts. Here’s your chance to meet the winemaker, the dude (or gal) that actually sourced the wine, or the nerdy wine salesman that can lay on the facts till you snore.  Trick is you need to sign up for their newsletter and inquire of their private tastings, which are all FREE!

Northside Social is the place for eclectic food, chef-taught classes, pig roasts, open mic nights with wine tastings, and a whole lot of funkified flavorful events. Usually $35 or less, this is a steal for those wine dinner seekers out there. A broad, diversified wine list makes this such a cozy hide out, and you can feast your eyes on locally sourced art.

Twisted Vines on Columbia Pike is still a well kept secret. Finally, someone thought to throw in an open area kids’ playground while Moms and Dads can partake of Happy Hour. Once a month, stroller mania takes over at Twisted Vines and parents can take a break from 10am-3pm for FREE while enjoying happy hour wine specials. And better yet, this joint offers private wine classes with a Certified Wine Educator and unique themes. Prices vary based on wine themes, but usually run less than $35. Call to inquire.

Screwtop Wine Bar and sister wine shop, Grateful Red, also add to the Clarendon wine scene with chocolate & wine pairings this Valentine’s and more educational wine classes usually under $50 a pop. Wendy Buckler has a knack for whipping up wine grandeur in tiny spaces with stunning cheese selections.

Hope this trot around town helps diversify your wine tasting palettes. For even more specialty listings, you should also check out David and Nycci Nellis’ The List Are You On It for event details or Capital Cooking with Lauren DeSantis. They always have the scoop on the latest food and wine gossip of the DC metro area.

Christianna Sargent
Certified Sommelier
Advanced Certificate–
Wine & Spirits Education Trust
Association of Italian Sommeliers
French Wine Scholar


February 1, 2013 


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