Grateful Red (2727 Wilson Blvd) wine shop in Clarendon is holding its official grand opening celebration this weekend.
Wendy Buckley, who also owns Screwtop Wine Bar, opened the store a couple of months ago, but wanted to take some time to get established before holding a big bash. This Saturday, September 15, Grateful Red will officially hold its Grand Opening and Fall Wine Lovers Festival.
Visitors can sample more than 30 wines and craft beers, along with gourmet goodies and cheeses. Local business Cookies and Corks of Falls Church will be at the store to offer samples of their specialty wine pairing cookies. Customers will receive discounts off of wine purchases over $50. The store will soon kick off wine classes, and will offer more information and a sign-up on Saturday.
All of the store’s usual offerings will also be available including meats, cheeses, gifts like soaps and lotions, more than 120 beers and more than 50 wines for less than $12.
It is free to attend the event, which runs from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Vintage Crystal: A Taste of Wine and Jazz is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16, from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. The event will be held in the parking lot outside 220 20th Street S.
The $20 cost of admission will get you a tasting glass, sips of tequila and various types of Spanish and South American wine, and tapas dishes from local restaurants. There’s also a $10 food-only option.
In addition to the food and drink, the event also features salsa dancing lessons, Latin jazz, and wine tasting classes.
Crystal City is also hosting weekly “Wine in the Water Park” events, at the public “water” park at 1750 Crystal Drive. The events are held on Fridays, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., through Sept. 28.
Disclosure: Crystal City Business Improvement District is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Located at 2727 Wilson Blvd, in the old Shoefly space, Grateful Red will carry (the store is still building its inventory) 500-600 bottles of wine, primarily from lesser-known independent producers, including local Virginia wineries. The store also offers beer, gourmet snacks and cheeses, and gifts.
While Screwtop will continue to operate its small retail wine shop, owner Wendy Buckley says she opened Grateful Red in order to offer more variety to customers. Many of the wines at the store can’t be found elsewhere in the immediate area, she said.
“When someone comes here, they won’t see a lot of wines they see in grocery stores,” she said.
Buckley said she’s happy to have hired some of the former staffers from Best Cellars, the Clarendon wine store that closed last year. She said the closing of Best Cellars in Clarendon wasn’t due to a lack of business. Instead, Buckley suggested, the store was doing well, but closed due to financial problems with the parent company.
Store General Manager Amanda Weaver-Page, who formerly managed the Best Cellars location in Dupont Circle, will be offering wine classes at the store, including “wine 101″ and classes that focus on specific wine-growing regions.
Buckley noted that the store is pet friendly, takes pride in its sense of humor. Gifts on sale include funny t-shirts, bedazzled flasks, and an ice cube tray that makes ice in the shape of the Titanic. Although the staff is knowledgeable about wine, Buckley says they “don’t take themselves too seriously.”
Future plans for the store include adding the capability to fill beer growlers, and launching a wine basket delivery service for the D.C. metro area.
ACPD Cruiser Hits Dog — An Arlington County police cruiser hit a dog Thursday night. The dog’s owner is accusing the police officer of speeding at the time the dog was struck, but a police spokesman suggests that that the dog’s injuries — it survived and is expected “to make a full recovery” — would have been worse if the officer was actually speeding. [WUSA 9]
Ballston Craft Market Season Starts — The Ballston Arts & Crafts Market will open its 2012 season on Saturday, May 12. It will take place on the second Saturday of the month through October. [Sun Gazette]
Wine Shop Offers Discount for Locals — The new Crystal City Wine Shop is offering 10 percent off to neighbors who live in the 22202 zip code and can prove it with a valid photo ID. The deal is valid on Tuesdays only. The shop is also offering 10 percent off on Wednesdays to anybody who works in the 22202 zip code and can prove it with a business card.
Screwtop Wine Bar (1025 N. Fillmore St) informed its customers over the weekend that it will open a retail wine bar in the old Shoefly spot. A Facebook page has been set up for the store, which will be called Grateful Red. Its website just became active today.
The store is expected to open sometime this summer. Screwtop Wine Bar owner Wendy Buckley said she hopes Grateful Red will be able to open its doors by July 4.
Buckley and her staff will aim to provide a mix of wines, ranging from “fancy” to less than $10 per bottle. Buckley said she’s grateful to be able to run a business in an area she loves.
Shoefly had been in business for 10 years, but the owners reportedly decided not to renew the lease.
The Curious Grape has reopened as a wine store and restaurant in Shirlington.
The wine shop traded its former location at 4056 Campbell Avenue — now a Cheesetique wine and cheese store — for a much bigger location a couple of blocks away, at 2900 S. Quincy Street (next to the Energy Club). The larger, sunnier space has allowed owners Suzanne McGrath and Katie Park to to reinvent their store as “The Curious Grape Wine, Dine & Shop,” complete with a sit-down restaurant, coffee and wine bar, and fresh, house-made pastry selection. As before, The Curious Grape also sells wine, beer, cheese and other gourmet items retail.
The Curious Grape restaurant — which quietly started serving diners last night — is helmed by executive chef Eric McKamey, whose resume includes PassionFish in Reston, 2941 in Falls Chuch, and Central, CityZen and Proof in D.C. McKamey’s menu offers “an eclectic selection of seasonal starters, small plates and entrées,” with ingredients “sourced from the Mid-Atlantic region whenever possible.” A press release listed some menu specifics.
Standouts include the Crimini Mushroom Soup with toasted sunflower seeds and preserved mushrooms; Lightly Cured Hamachi with pomegranate, cumin, and preserved lemon; Lamb Empanadas with pumpkin seed salsa and crème fraiche; Sweet Potato Gnocchi with thyme, Taleggio cheese and black truffle; Pan Roasted Sea Scallops with black rice, bok choy and a plum wine sauce; Pene Pasta with a Vietnamese-spiced beef and lamb Bolognese, as well as Coffee and Cacao-Rubbed Beef Tenderloin with potato-fennel gratin, wilted spinach and Malbec bordelaise. A unique menu layout directs guests to wine pairings for each dish, and also encourages customers to “drink what they love”. Prices range from $7 to $8 for starters, from $13 to $17 for appetizers, and from $19 and $25 entrées.
In its 5,200 square foot space, The Curious Grape has a 10-seat wine bar, a 55-seat main dining room and a 40-seat private event space. The coffee and pastry “cafe” is open starting at 7:30 a.m. daily. For bar and restaurant patrons, the eatery offers a seasonal selection of beers on tap and by the bottle. Additional hours and reservation information are available on the store’s website.
The Crystal City Wine Shop, at the corner of Army Navy Drive and 12th Street S. on the ground floor of the Lenox Club apartments, quietly opened on Thursday and is operating under reduced hours this week while management hires employees and kicks the business into gear.
For the time being, the wine shop is stocking about a third of the wine and beer selection that will eventually be offered for sale. As they start ramping up sales and restocking, managers hope to offer some 150-200 types of beer and about 800 individual wines. There will be a special emphasis on Virginia wines, we’re told. In addition to wine and beer, the store is selling meats, cheeses, sauces, crackers, potato chips and chocolates.
Through Saturday, the store will be open daily from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eventually, the store’s hours are expected to be 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 12:00 to 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. The store does not yet have a website, though one is on the way.
The shop is wholly owned by the nonprofit Washington Wine Academy, which has offices in a building across the street. Alex Evans, the academy’s director of education, says the store was conceived after attendees at academy-run events — like the Crystal City 1K Wine Walk — started asking where they could buy some of the unique wines they were tasting.
“Now we can give them a definitive answer,” Evans said.
The Reading Connection is hosting the event on Friday at the Boeing Conference Center (1200 Wilson Blvd). Attendees can enjoy a wine and beer tasting, food from local restaurants and a silent auction.
WJLA Meteorologist Brian van de Graff will emcee and children’s book author Jarrett J. Krosoczka will be the literacy honoree. Lyon Hall‘s Executive Pastry Chef Rob Valencia has earned the distinction of being the event’s first ever Chef Chair.
The 8th Annual Of Wine & Words runs from 7:00-10:00 p.m., and the VIP reception begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person, or $115 including the VIP reception.
Several local social clubs will be toasting the arrival of “Leap Day” in Arlington tomorrow.
Tomorrow is Feb. 29, a date that comes around only every four years or so during a leap year. Leap Day, as it’s known, might not be an officially recognized holiday, but it does have its fans. At least three Meetup.com groups are planning Leap Day events here in Arlington. Among them:
- The 20s and 30s Wine Lovers group will be holding a Leap Day happy hour at Cheesetique (4056 Campbell Avenue) in Shirlington, starting at 5:30 p.m. After sipping wine and sampling cheese, the group plans to head to a nearby bar.
- The Fairlington Social Club is planning a “Leap Day Sadie Hawkins Happy Hour” at Bungalow Billiards (2766 S. Arlington Mill Drive) in Shilrington, starting at 6:00 p.m. The “Sadie Hawkins” part, in case you’re wondering, refers to a pseudo-tradition of women asking men out on dates on Leap Day.
- An Alexandria social group is planning a “Leap Day Party” at Tortoise & Hare Bar and Grille (567 23rd Street S.) in Crystal City, starting at 7:00 p.m.
As for the motivation for having a Leap Day celebration, last week the show 30 Rock (pictured above) explained that February 29 is “a magical extra day… to do the things you normally wouldn’t do.”
For the local Meetup organizers, however, the motivation was more along the lines of: “why not?”
“[It] seemed like a good excuse to have a happy hour,” said Gary, organizer of the Fairlington Social Club event, in an email.
Screen grab via NBC
Early Tennis Class Registration — Registration for early spring tennis classes via the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation began yesterday. The classes run for four weeks starting March 12. Registration for full spring classes for tennis and other sports begins on March 14th. Summer camp registration, meanwhile, opens on Feb. 22.
Wine Event in Crystal City This Weekend — The Virginia Wine and Food Showcase is taking place at the Crystal Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Hwy) on Feb. 18 and 19. The event features more than 300 wines from around Virginia… and a speed dating session. [NBC Washington]
This Date in Arlington History — Feb. 16, 1945: “Ignition of spilled nail polish led to an explosion and fire that wrecked a South Fillmore Street beauty shop.” [Sun Gazette]
Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday. To avoid ending up in the dog house, now would be a good time to secure some plans with your loved one. While Arlington offers a plethora of options for celebrating, here are just a few to consider for this weekend and the big day on Tuesday.
- Celebrate with the traditional holiday staples of wine and chocolate at Screwtop Wine Bar (1025 N. Fillmore St). The Sweetheart Tasting on Saturday includes tastes of French and Italian wines and four stations of cheese, chocolates, cupcakes and charcuterie. Participants also get a box of chocolates to take home. Runs from 3:00-5:00 p.m. and costs $49.99 per person (discount for wine club members). Call 703-888-0845 for reservations.
- Aroma Indian Restaurant (4052 Campbell Ave) is hosting a “Love Bites Valentine’s Night” on Saturday, starting at 8:30 p.m. The bash boasts of a DJ, champagne toast, contests and prizes, cash bar and unlimited food with admission. Tickets cost $75 for a couple and $40 for singles.
- Make your date laugh with a night of comedy at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike). The evening starts with stand-up comedy about relationships, then moves on to a showing of “The Princess Bride.” Tickets are $8. The 7:00 p.m. event is sold out, but there are still spots available for the 9:50 p.m. event. An optional wine tasting is also available for an additional cost.
- Learn how to whip up some romantic dishes at Sur La Table (1101 S. Joyce St) during a cooking class. The “Breakfast in Bed” class runs on Sunday and Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The class is $69.00 per person and can be booked online.
- Take in some romantic tunes while picking out last minute gifts at Market Common (2700 Clarendon Blvd). A guitarist, violinist and accordionist will play classic love songs while strolling from store to store from 2:00-4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Several stores will offer deals or discounts on merchandise.
- Surprise your special someone with a singing telegram. From Sunday through Tuesday, a women’s quartet from the Potomac Harmony Chorus will deliver two songs, a card and a box of candy. Today is the last day to order, by calling 703-764-3896. Options and pricing can be found online.
- Join the Opera Guild of Northern Virginia for its “That’s Amore Valentine’s Day Concert” at 4301 Wilson Blvd. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for refreshments and shopping, concert starts at 7:00 p.m. Suggested donations for advance tickets and for walkups are available online.
Walkers can sample more than 30 different wines while walking a 1K indoor course through the Crystal City Shops (2200 Crystal Drive). Participants can use their 20 tasting tickets on wine or snacks. Walkers also receive a t-shirt upon crossing the finish line.
Tickets are sold for different “heat” times that start every half hour from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Many of the heats are already sold out, and organizers expect all heats to be filled by the time the weekend arrives.
Tickets are $35 and $40, and can be purchased online. Tickets for the inaugural 1K Beer Walk next weekend can be purchased on the same website.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
The Curious Grape to Reopen — There will soon be two competing boutique wine and cheese stores in Shirlington. The Curious Grape, which moved out of its storefront in Shirlington Village earlier this year in order to make way for Cheesetique, just announced that it will be reopening next month in a larger storefront one block away. [Shirlington Village Blog]
Loyalty Oath for Va. GOP Primary — Voters who want to cast their ballot in the March 6 presidential primary in Virginia will be required to sign a loyalty oath. The Virginia Republican Party requested the pledge — which is perfectly legal under Virginia law — as a condition of participation in the primary. The pledge (of support for the eventual Republican presidential nominee) is intended to reduce the number of non-Republicans voting in the otherwise open primary. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Earthquake Still Affecting Local Theater Troupes — The temporary closure of the Thomas Jefferson Community Theater due to earthquake damage is still having repercussions in the local arts community. As a result of the closure, a planned Spring 2012 production of Cats has been postponed until 2013. Also, the county’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute has been moved to Washington-Lee High School. [Sun Gazette]
Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Doug Rosen, owner of long-time Arlington wine store Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).
When searching for the perfect gift for the wine lover, we should really start at the most obvious: a truly special bottle of wine. If your recipient likes wines of a particular variety, like California cabernet, you might look for a special bottle from a hard-to-find producer. Or ask your wine merchant to help you select a wine from a different place or made from a different grape that has a similar flavor profile to your recipient’s favorite.
Perhaps you can find an older bottle that has been properly cared for and squirreled away. Fine wine merchants often hold some stocks of highly rated selections and offer them for sale at the peak of drinkability, giving a client an opportunity to experience what a well-aged, well cared for wine tastes like. The bottles’ bouquet, palate feel and complexity can only develop over time and no amount of decanting can yield the same results.
Port makes a great gift as there are so many delicious options and in most cases, the consumer can enjoy a well-aged wine immediately.
You can’t go wrong with an aged Tawny Port. It’s hard to beat a glass of Port on a cold evening in front of a fire. The most popular Tawny Ports are 10-year-old and 20-year-old, but you can also find 30 and 40-year-old examples. The number of years designated on the bottle represents the average age of the blend from several vats of various years. Tawny Ports are aged in large wood vats and as they age they slowly oxidize and mellow, losing color and sweetness while gaining nuttiness. Since they are aged in wood for extended periods of time, they don’t need decanting and can be enjoyed to the last drop. Another beauty of Tawny Port is once open they can be enjoyed for months — just keep them in the refrigerator.
Ports represent great value, given that the grower has held the wine in his cellar and aged it for you. Tawny’s are best served cool, which helps moderate the higher alcohol level. They are a gift that keeps on giving.
Vintage Ports are the King of Port Wines. They represent the best wines that a producer can make, encompassing only about two percent of the producer’s total production. They are produced on average only three times in a decade. Vintage Ports are made from the grapes of the finest parcels of land, from usually the oldest vines, the finest farms, and from a single harvest. To this day many houses still tread the grapes under foot in shallow concrete vats. Law dictates they must be bottled unfiltered after only two years in barrel. They are then offered for sale, letting the consumer age them in his cellar. They often need 30 to 40 years to reach their full potential. A good fine wine shop will stock Vintage Ports dating back to the seventies and offer mature wines for sale.
Vintage Ports are truly a grand experience, requiring some forethought as the bottle must stand upright for several days to let the sediment slowly drift to the bottom. Even with three days in an upright position, you will want to decant the wine using a funnel and screen (widely available), rinse out the original bottle to remove the remaining sediment, and then return the decanted wine to the original bottle. After that, you are ready to serve it. Unlike Tawny Ports, Vintage Ports are best consumed within a day or so after opening.
Enjoying vintage port may seem like a lot of work, but I promise you it’s well worth it. Match this grandest of wines with Colston Bassett Stilton, slices of pear, and nuts and you are in for one of the most revered wine and food pairings in the world.
Try it you’ll love it!
Email any comments or questions to email@example.com. Follow Doug on Twitter (@ArrowineInc) or like the store on Facebook. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx.
Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Doug Rosen, owner of long-time Arlington wine store Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).
Okay, there’s no way around it; it takes years of training and experience to taste wine like a pro. However, there are a few things you can learn to be better equipped to analyze and enjoy the wine in your glass.
The first thing is to start out with a clean glass. That would seem obvious but it isn’t. By clean I mean NEVER use a glass straight from your cabinet without first rinsing it with water. All cabinets impart aromas to glasses in a matter of minutes. These aromas taint the wine instantly. Not to mention that many soaps and dishwasher detergents leave noticeable aromatic residues. This is the single most prevalent mistake made.
There are some out there in the wine world who think that rinsing a glass with wine is enough to season a glass but they are wrong. Detergents and their residues are formulated to dissolve in water, not wine, and wine doesn’t get rid of cabinet smells either. Tap water is fine to rinse a glass; if you can then use a little wine in the rinsed glass to remove the water residue and season the glass, even better.
Now how to taste. Start off by selecting a glass that’s generous (at least 8 oz); this gives you enough surface area to swirl the wine and expose it to oxygen without spilling it all over yourself.
Pour about 1 to 2 ounces in the glass. Use a sheet of white paper, holding it behind the glass to try to get a real sense of the wines’ clarity and color.
Is the wine clear or cloudy? Wine in the glass should always be clear and translucent.
Tilt the glass and observe the color to the rim. Is it consistent or does the color or hue taper off. Young wines have less color variation. Oak aging also fixes color in both reds and whites. The more new wood the deeper the color. Older red wines can take on a brickish tone, while whites become golden.
Not all wines are deeply colored. Malbec, cabernet and merlot-based wines are blue to purple, while pinot noirs, gamays, nebbiolo and sangiovese-based wines have less color naturally and are more red in appearance.
To get started, swirl the wine in the glass to release the aromas. Tilt the glass and really get your nose in there. This is perhaps the most complicated part of the process. The nose tells you many things.
The aroma of the wine should be identifiable as coming from a particular grape variety, for example plums for merlot or lime for sauvignon blanc. The nose also tells you if a wine has been aged in oak and if so what kind of oak was used: spice/vanilla aromas from French oak or coconut aromas from American oak. Keep in mind that the aromatics contributed from the oak aging should never dominate the aromatic profile.
The nose is also the first place to pick up defects in a wine such as:
- Cork taint, which imparts an earthy, cardboard-like smell, akin to a wet basement
- Volatile acidity, or a vinegar smell
- Excess sulphur, like a burned match
- Oxidation, or a sherry-like aroma
- Mercaptan, smells like skunk
- Brettanomyces, which has many unpleasant variations such as barnyard, leather, mouse or band-aid like smells.
Remember, a wine is fermented from grapes and should always smell “fruity.” If it doesn’t, that’s not good! And now for the fun part…