November 13, 2013 | by Jonathan Howard
Warming up with wine
Barcelona, gay news, Washington Blade

Barcelona (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As the cooler weather begins to take hold, it’s time to switch from cold refreshing beer to a nice full-bodied red wine.

So, instead of a weekend at JR.’s and Number Nine, I opted for a weekend of wine bar hopping. With so many great options in the area, it’s hard to choose where to grab a glass and a bite to eat — Proof (775 G Street N.W.), Dickson Wine Bar (903 U Street N.W.) or how about the new kid on the block, Barcelona (1622 14th Street N.W.)?

In all fairness, Mark Kuller’s restaurant Proof isn’t really a wine bar per se, but if you’re looking for some fantastic wine options and scrumptious food, then this is the place for you. The list has more than 40 options by the glass and 1,000 different bottles are available. If you aren’t sure what to have, one of the knowledgeable bartenders is sure to steer you in the right direction, and even recommend a fantastic food pairing.

If you’re looking for a more traditional wine bar, try Veritas (2031 Florida Ave. N.W.), which offers 70 wines by the glass that can be paired with the cheeses, charcuterie and chocolates offered there. If you’re a red wine lover in the winter, like I am, I recommend the Argentinean Malbec on the list; it’s a dynamic wine that will warm you right up. Dickson Wine Bar (903 U Street N.W.) is a narrow three-story venue right across from Nellie’s. Dickson focus is an organic wine list as well as some organic light fare. I would suggest trying the flatbread with figs and Gorgonzola.

Of course, 14th Street has a few offerings. Cork Wine Bar (1720 14th Street N.W.) is one of the most established venues offering 50 different wines by the glass as well as 160 bottles of wine from small producers from around the world. Cork also offers flights of wine so you can explore different regions as well as offering delectable pairings with some small plates. New addition to 14th Street Bar di Bari (1401 R Street N.W.) is one of my favorite places to grab a glass of wine and write. Many times I will grab my notebook and walk over to Bar di Bari for a glass (or bottle) of the Montepulciano. This deeply colored multilayered wine is the perfect wine for sipping while contemplating how to write about some of my culinary adventures.

Barcelona is the newest boy in town and he has quickly won me over. Maybe it was the bartender who poured my friend and I a taste of every Tempranillo on the menu when we asked for a suggestion (each taste being better than the last). It could possibly be that when my husband, my mother and I asked about a red wine flight we were each presented with three different wines each, a total of nine wines and the waiter described each one in depth. The Spanish food that they serve up in small plate fashion, with each plate providing a perfectly balanced bite for everyone at the table, could be another reason why Barcelona won me over.

Barcelona, dining, tapas, gay news, Washington Blade

Tapas at Barcelona (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

I’ve been to Barcelona many times and each time I discover another reason to love it. The first day it was the warm welcoming service. The next time it was noticing that its staff provides blankets to the diners on the patio to keep the chilly air at bay. Then it was the beautiful wooden planked floor. In all the times I’ve been to Barcelona, I’ve yet to go in with an idea of what I want to drink, yet each time I end up with the perfect glass of wine for my mood.

The bartenders are fantastic at recommending and discussing the options. And of course, while I always believe that a cheese plate is the perfect place to start, there are many plates on the menu that are worth trying, like the jamon and chicken croquettas, or the perfectly prepared spiced beef empanadas. The pork belly is quite divine as is the mushrooms and herbed goat cheese. Each small plate offered is worth trying.

There’s no better way to spend a blustery November day then in a wine bar enjoying perfect bites of food with a glass of red wine. Luckily, the wine bars of Washington provide plenty of options as well as wines from around the world. Whether it’s French, or organic, local or from Spain, the options are endless.

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