Pizza Vinoteca opens in Ballston tonight and after a preview event I can attest it’s a place that will get this DC gal out to the ‘burbs more often!
Although it’s decidedly casual, there’s no skimping on quality at Pizza Vinoteca. An uplit wall of wine lines the foyer before guests are greeted by an impressive open kitchen and pizza oven directly inside. A round bar dominates the open space, lending credence to the wine-centric menu. The architecture is a thoughtful indication of the consideration behind serious food and wine at prices that won’t break the bank.
Wine bottles line the entry to the casual eatery.
The restaurant serves 36 wines by the glass in an argon gas system that preserves the vino and allows for longer shelf life and a greater variety of wines offered by the glass. The best part? All wines are under $10/glass and they have some truly interesting options.
While you’ll find the expected Pinot Grigio and Chianti on the list, it also features Orange Wine, Lambrusco, and a Sparkling Nebbiolo among other esoteric wine selections that will have wine geeks excited.
Enjoying a sparkling Nebbiolo with CEO Ari Malcolm
The list offers outstanding value, pulling from regions that offer great bang for the buck while offering clients outstanding value and interesting choices. Half pours are also available for those wishing to try something new without committing to a full glass.
CEO Ari Malcolm adapted the concept from his New York outpost and said he tasted over 1,000 wines before settling on the list. The menu is meant to be both tasty and accessible, and I found it to achieve these goals.
The food is produced in a kitchen visible through glass walls that cranks out interesting and delicious pizzas among other casual fare.
While you can certainly get your pepperoni fix, there are some unexpected combinations that really won me over. The Brussels Sprout pizza was perhaps my favorite. The shaved sprouts are made zesty with a kick of lemon zest, crunchy with toasted walnuts, and creamy with Ricotta Cheese. Trust me, just order it! Another stand out was the Kale, Pesto, Andouille Sausage and Fontina Cheese option.
Prosciutto, pineapple, peppers and arugula
Pizza Vinoteca opens to the general public tonight.
Check out the menus below:
Bon Vivant, Guest Posts, Helpful Hints, Holidays, Seasonal Sips, Virginia Wine, Wine Concierge, Wine Pairing, Wine Recommendations, Winemakers, Wineries and Vineyards
Virginia wine is making its mark. And if you’re not on board yet, here are 6 outstanding Virginia wines that will change your mind, perfectly suited to complement your Thanksgiving Feast. Get all the details and tasting notes in my guest post on The Hill is Home!
Breaux Vineyards. Fall, 2013
There’s something for everyone- from the bubbly lover to dessert wines- from just a few of Virginia’s esteemed wineries, including Thibaut-Jannison, Breaux Vineyards, RdV, Stone Tower Winery, Tarara Winery and Linden Vineyards.
Taste makers around the country are singing the Commonwealth’s praises, most recently at the Virginia Wine Summit. Food And Wine Magazine Editor, Ray Isle, was recently the keynote speaker, where he praised both the gorgeous scenery and outstanding wines right in DC’s backyard.
Have you tried Virginia wine yet? If not, consider one of my Thanksgiving pairing recommendations or contact me for a custom excursion into DC’s wine country. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
For more wine pairing guidance this Thanksgiving check out my recommendations here!
Lately, there seems to be a delegated day (and a corresponding hashtag) to just about everything- in case you didn’t mark it in your calendar, today is #TempranilloDay.
In light of this most important holiday I wanted to share 5 fun facts about this popular grape:
- While Tempranillo is most closely associated with the Rioja region of Spain, it is also grown domestically in California, Arizona and Texas.
- Spanish Tempranillo is categorized into 4 age categories: Cosecha, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Typically, younger wines are more fruit forward and lighter in body, while older Tempranillos develop bolder, more earthy and nuanced characteristics.
- Younger wines should be consumed while young, while Reservas and Gran Reservas (the latter is only produced in outstanding vintages) are more suitable for aging.
- All Tempranillo is high in acid and medium bodied, making it an extremely versatile pairing wine. Try it with roasted pork or charcuterie for a can’t miss pairing!
- Tempranillo is the most widely planted grape in Spain.
What’s your favorite Tempranillo?
I’m taking a cue from my clients and giving a few pointers on some of the differences between Old World and New World wines this week. It’s a class that I teach a lot, and it’s a lot of fun to see people who “hate [insert wine variety]” realize they don’t in fact hate ALL of it!
To start, it’s helpful to know what we’re even talking about here. “Old World” is Europe (Turkey, Lebanon and others are also generally included in this category). “New World” is….everything else! America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa- they’re all New World.
Obviously there is quite a bit of variation in these regions, so take these generalizations with a grain of salt.
- New World wines are typically more fruit forward, whereas Old World wines typically exhibit more earthy elements respective of their terroir.
- New World wines are more typically aged in American oak, which imparts more flavor than French or Hungarian oak.
- New World wine also tend to be a bit higher in alcohol than Old World wines.
- Some find the flavors in New World wines to be a bit more accessible, whereas Old World Wines are typically described as subtle or nuanced.
- It’s possible to find Old World style wines in the New World, and vice versa!
There’s no right or wrong preference- just as in art, wine is highly subjective and you should drink what you like. Just remember to branch out sometimes- you just may discover that that wine you thought you hated is more about the region than the grape!
Do you prefer one style over the other?
As DC braces for its first cold snap of the season, I’m reminiscing about July in Malibu!
Wine grapes growing in Malibu
In a region known more for surfing and celebrities than vino, I had the opportunity to have lunch with an outstanding winemaker, Elliot Dolin. He was kind enough to share his wine, chat his past life on the road with Willie Nelson, and the newly designated AVA in Malibu over lunch at V’s.
Dolin wasn’t always a winemaker, or even aficionado. In fact, in the mid 90’s he started out knowing “next to nothing about wine at the time other than the fact that wine was either red or white.” It was at a friend’s regular wine gatherings where he began learning more, collecting wine and taking classes at UCLA.
After purchasing a home in Malibu, Dolin realized he had land perfect for growing grapes, and so began his vineyard in 2006.
“Given our proximity to the coast, Chardonnay was the logical varietal choice. There was then no question that we would pursue the production of wine from these grapes,” said Dolin.
Elliot Dolin with his 2011 Chardonnay
Although the cost of production at small, family owned wineries can be prohibitive, Dolin had his eye on expansion from the very beginning.
“Effective with our 2012 vintage, we have dramatically expanded our production to include four distinct single vineyard Pinot Noir bottlings. In addition, for the 2012 vintage, we have produced a proprietary red wine made with grapes grown in a vineyard at a much higher elevation in Malibu. Thus, our 2012 production was close to 2000 cases, almost 10 times that of 2011.”
This is good news for wine lovers here on the East Coast!
“Given our higher, yet limited, production, we’re currently seeking distribution channels that will make our wines available throughout the United States.”
Currently, his Chardonnay is available to enjoy in DC at Oya. Drinkers can expect a well balanced wine with a rich, creamy mouth feel, tropical fruit notes and vanilla on the palette. It recently received 90 points from Wine Spectator.
2011 Chardonnay, which recently received 90 Points from Wine Spectator.
2013 was an odd year for California vintners. Harvest broke records in many areas with its early timing, but Dolin is optimistic.
“We are quite excited about the 2013 vintage. Our Estate chardonnay vineyard produced almost exactly the yield that we targeted. And the barrel samples that I have tasted reveal a very promising 2013 vintage for both our Estate Chardonnay and our single vineyard Pinot Noir grapes.”
There was quite a lot of hoopla over the designation of Malibu as its own distinct AVA. Dolin’s perspective on how this affects his own winemaking:
“The new Malibu Coast AVA allows us to label and identify our wines as being produced with grapes from a specific region, versus being limited to identifying them as originating from either “Los Angeles County ” or “California”. Aside from establishing this sense of place for our wines, we also benefit from the official government recognition that establishes the Malibu Coast as a legitimate wine growing region.”
Dolin was a professional musician for much of his life and has great stories of touring with music greats Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Faron Young, Ernest Tubb, and Merle Haggard. When he’s not making wine or music, Dolin is an avid classic car collector.
From Dolin’s days as a professional musician. Pictured: Ray Price and Willie Nelson. In Willie’s sunglass lens you can see a reflection of the legendary steel guitar player Buddy Emmons.
Have you tried wine from Malibu?