Maryland Wineries Association curates the abundant spread of wineries and vineyards that dot the state’s landscape, keeping tabs on the more than 400 wines they produce. Holders of the Maryland Wine Passport wind their way through the state’s six wine trails, tracking their progress as they taste vintages and take photos with their favorite vines. The site also keeps track of local wine news and upcoming winery events.
The clinks of wine and cocktail glasses echo in Sascha's 527 Cafe's decadent 19th-century townhouse, adorned with cascading red velvet curtains and ever-changing displays of artwork. Illuminated by flickering candles and prismatic glints from a crystal chandelier, shareable small plates introduce the menu's New American flavor with an emphasis on quality ingredients. Entrees include grilled and sautéed cuts of seafood, chicken, and steak, bathed with dynamic sauces and paired with wholesome produce. Patrons can whisper décor compliments into the ears of painted portraits residing on the eatery's walls, and then dig into a homemade dessert for a sweet jolt proven to be safer than drinking hot cocoa from a plugged-in toaster.
Not everyone who loves wine is fortunate enough to transform that love into a viable career, much less a successful business. But Christopher Spann did just that with Wine Market Bistro, whose numerous accolades stand as testament to his achievement. More than 25 wines can be savored by the glass in the loft-like dining room, while the adjoining wine shop stocks more than 800 bottles ranging in varietal and region. These bottles can be enjoyed in the bistro for a small corkage fee. The wine-friendly menu fills the rustic-chic dining room with the aroma of house-made mini brats, diver scallops, and dry-aged ribeye. And in warmer months, diners can take their meals on the courtyard patio and cool off by piling ice block after ice block onto their laps.
While studying flute performance and classical dance at the University of Wyoming, Michelle Shaw's endeavors were hampered by constant back pain. She sought relief through massage therapy and yoga, and this holistic care soon developed into a passion, inspiring her to attend the Baltimore School of Massage. She now helps others revel in muscle relief at Mount Vernon Wellness. Within a private treatment room overseen by a serene painting of Buddha, she eases sports- and work-related injuries, which are often caused by repetitive motion, poor posture, and pole-vaulting over cubicles. To treat these ailments, she draws on an array of modalities such as Swedish, deep-tissue, and reflexology massage. She also employs traditional Thai-massage techniques, which incorporate pressure-point therapy, energy work, and yoga-like stretching to regain bodily balance.
Fine wine sometimes has a haughty reputation, but at its best, wine is a casual beverage to enjoy with friends?a shared experience in a bottle. Likewise, with its trendy, industrial decor, Silo.5% Wine Bar surrounds patrons with a setting that's both refined and unpretentious. Enormous floor-to-ceiling windows provide sweeping views of the outdoors, while the bright green accents and barstools add splashes of color to the concrete columns and exposed ductwork. Mezzanine-level seating overlooks the couches and swiveling armchairs on the ground floor. The sister restaurant of the award-winning 13.5% Wine Bar in Hampden, "Silo.5% Wine Bar is the kind of stylish place you want to dress up for, and people do," noted The Baltimore Sun, "but it's not essential."
One of the ground floor's more striking features is the collection of wall-mounted wine racks that extends beyond the length of the bar. These racks support a hefty number of wines from Silo.5%'s extensive list, which can include more than 30 options by the glass and more than 200 by the bottle. In addition to the perennial favorites, the wine list features less ubiquitous varietals from countries such as Greece and Austria. Not content with pouring wine and saving the corks to build a raft, the bartenders also craft classic and contemporary cocktails. When combined with the accommodating service, this diverse drink selection helped Silo.5% Wine Bar earn a spot on Baltimore magazine's 2013 list of the 25 Best Bars: New Favorites.
Of course, wine is best paired with food, so Silo.5% Wine Bar also curates an eclectic, ever-changing menu of upscale comfort foods. Shareable small plates showcase the variety of local and international inspiration, as in the tacos filled with pork belly braised in soy sauce. In every recipe, the kitchen strives to use sustainable ingredients such as grass-fed beef, freshly caught fish, and handmade pasta.
Herb & Soul chefs B. Taylor and David Thomas operate under a simple mantra with several implications. When they say their mission is to "feed the soul," they mean that their fried chicken, short ribs, and Georgia bread pudding are more than just items on the menu—they’re nourishing reminders of the home-cooked meals of childhood.
They also mean that they do their best to foster long-standing relationships with local farmers and stock their small, down-home establishment with organic produce, grass-fed meats, and sustainably sourced fish. Herb & Soul's support of sustainable agriculture benefits the environment as well, since the restaurant converts its waste into compost and recycles its oil on the kitchen’s slip 'n' slide.