Cheers! 10 Glorious Wine Bars For Sipping & Savoring This Winter

UPDATE: There's no better way to celebrate a Sunday Funday than with a glass of grape, so sip at these locales. This story was originally published on December 24.
Ah, wine — it's what we need at the end of a long day at work, the drink of choice for a cozy night in, and a tasty treat to complement any meal. Whether you opt for red or white, a big pour or a small one, there's no denying that a perfect glass of vino can warm your stomach and your soul.
And now, with winter well upon us, it's time to round up the DMV’s coziest wine bars. These spots vary tremendously by the varietals they serve (and how much they cost), but one thing they all have in common? A staff of enthusiastic and friendly oenophiles, all willing to help you learn about wine while getting you boozed up (in the most sophisticated way possible, of course). Read on to find your new favorite sipping spot.
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Evo Bistro
Tasting wine at Evo Bistro is a unique experience, mainly because you can try tons of varietals before committing to a glass. Start by purchasing a wine debit card with a value of your choice, and opt for one-, three-, or five-ounce pours of over 50 varietals, simply by touching a button on one of the high-tech Enomatic wine devices. Taste-test until you've used up the money on your card, then let a server bring you a glass or a bottle of your new favorite. Enjoy it over shared tapas in a chic and friendly setting, then hit up the wine shop, which stocks many of the bottles available for tasting.

Evo Bistro, 1313 Old Chain Bridge Road; McLean; 703-288-4422.


Photo: Courtesy of Evo Bistro
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Bistro Lepic & Wine Bar
As soon as you step inside this beloved neighborhood staple, you're transported to a traditional Parisian bistro, thanks to simple, elegant decor and plenty of longtime regulars. Reservations for the dining room can be hard to snag, so opt to head upstairs to the cozy wine bar, which offers an excellent selection of French wines and an extensive bar menu of traditional French comfort food (Think mussel soup with leeks and potatoes, beet and goat cheese terrine with balsamic dressing, and organic Burgundy snails in garlic butter). Wines by the glass are half off during happy hour, and there's live jazz in the wine bar on Monday and Wednesday nights.

Bistro Lepic, 1736 Wisconsin Avenue NW; 202-333-0111.


Photo: Courtesy of Bistro Lepic
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The Iron Bridge Wine Company
“Life is too short to drink bad wine” are the words to live by at The Iron Bridge Wine Company. The staff stocks the bar with a sense of humor and a great wine list featuring small production wineries. More than 30 wines are offered by the glass, and if you decide you want more than a glass or two, no problem — you can purchase a bottle for the retail price (restaurants normally charge at least twice that), pay a nominal corkage fee, and drink up.

Iron Bridge, 10435 State Route 18; Columbia; 410-997-3456.


Photo: Courtesy of Iron Bridge Wine Company
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Dickson Wine Bar
Looking for a romantic date-night spot? Dickson serves up all the right ingredients to set the mood — wood tables, cozy seating, exposed brick walls, and plenty of candlelight. Try a Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Barda from Patagonia or the Domaine Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru from Alsace with the pork belly bánh mì. Reservations are recommended; check the Facebook page for menu and happy hour updates.

Dickson Wine Bar, 903 U Street NW; 202-332-1779.


Photo: Courtesy of Dickson Wine Bar/Bryan Dozier
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The Curious Grape
This Shirlington oenophile outpost has a neighborhood vibe and eager staff to match, and was recently expanded to include a restaurant and café (with delicious coffee, too). Wine is served at the bar by the glass or half-glass, and there are frequent tastings in the shop, which offers a relatively inexpensive selection — many bottles are under $20. What does that mean, exactly? You can afford to experiment and bring home something totally unknown. We recommend going with something you’ve never heard of.

The Curious Grape, 2900 South Quincy Street; Arlington; 703-671-8700.


Photo: Courtesy of The Curious Grape/Nicole Lozare
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Grapeseed American Bistro & Wine Bar
Overflowing with old-school charm, Grapeseed is a quiet go-to spot in Bethesda. Just a few blocks from the Metro, it's a great spot to unwind with a glass of wine after a hectic day at the office. Stop by between 5 and 7 p.m. daily for the 5-5-5 happy hour: $5 glasses of wine, $5 appetizers, and $5 cocktails.

Grapeseed, 4865 Cordell Avenue; Bethesda; 301-986-9592.


Photo: Courtesy of Grapeseed
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Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar
Just a stone's throw from Eastern Market, Sonoma offers a cozy, Italian-influenced atmosphere and plenty of vino to warm you up. Owners Jared Rager and Eli Hengst strive for sustainable practices, using seasonal and local ingredients as well as renewable energy. The menu and communal tables are made for sharing, and the wine list leans heavily toward Italian and California varietals, which is a perfect pairing for all that cured meat you’re about to eat.

Sonoma, 223 Pennsylvania Avenue SE; 202-544-8088.


Photo: Courtesy of Sonoma
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Proof
If you're looking for a special night out — something sexy, yet still cozy — Proof is your place. Even the lounge by the front door feels warm and secluded. The wine list includes some stellar varietals, but what to have on a chilly winter’s night? Here’s what wine director Joe Quinn recommends:

“Pinot Noir, especially...there's just something romantic and cozy about it. It's the elegant, evocative, aromatic profile of cherry, spice, and woodsy earthiness, and the silky, lithe frame inherent to Pinot. Nebbiolo, the noblest grape of Italy's Piedmont, also gets my vote, especially if it's from the renowned district of Barbaresco. Barbaresco is light in weight, but has lots of tannic muscle, and combines the leather-and-pipe-tobacco earthiness of an old library with seductive truffle, cherry, and violet notes. You'll forget there's no fireplace at Proof.

Lastly, I'd be remiss not mentioning the sweet, warming, and complex fortified wines of Oporto. Spring for a vintage Port with some age, or order a non-vintage, 20-year tawny Port, pick a dessert to go with it, and you've got winter beat.”

Proof, 775 G Street NW; 202-737-7663.


Photo: Courtesy of Proof/Darko Zagar
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The Wine Kitchen
Simplicity is The Wine Kitchen’s mantra. Cozy decor, a menu sourced mostly from local Maryland farmers, and a relaxed atmosphere give way to leisurely vino-sipping with friends overlooking Carroll Creek. The wine list is organized by flights, and the descriptions are put in layman’s terms — no fancy industry language here. Try the Local Flavor wine flight featuring three delicious Maryland wineries.

The Wine Kitchen, 7 South King Street; Leesburg; 703-777-9463.


Photo: Courtesy of The Wine Kitchen
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Vino Volo
Vino Volo in Bethesda is the first city location of this favorite airport wine bar and shop. The wine list is separated into flights, so you can try three varietals for the price of a glass. If something catches your eye but you're afraid to commit, try a two-ounce pour for 1/3 the price of a glass. On the other hand, if you find yourself in love, you can purchase a bottle directly from the bar. For the holiday season, we recommend trying the Christmas Cabernets flight of Cabernet Sauvignon with the bacon brittle —seriously.

Vino Volo, 7243-7247 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda; 301-656-0916.


Photo: Courtesy of Vino Volo
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