Like a United Nations of varietals, some of the world’s tastiest wines from countries such as Argentina, Chile, Italy, and France are well-represented within Jackie’s Wine Bar. Connoisseurs savor the unique notes of each pour while investigating the black-framed pictures on Jackie’s coffee-colored walls and the shelves of wine bottles that vie for attention behind the bar by wearing chic designer labels. On Thursday evenings, free salsa lessons invite patrons to set down their glasses and grab their dance partner’s hand; Saturday nights feature live bands that serve dulcet melodies as aromatic bouquets serenade olfactory receptors. Fresh air courses through Jackie’s outdoor patio, where visitors can alternate between sips of wine or beer and bites of sandwiches, desserts, and appetizers.
Dealing directly with venerated wineries, the swirling and sniffing staff at Finewine.com purveys a fine roster of pleasing potables. The trio of vinos hails from California’s Vaquero Cellars, which selects the best grapes from nearby vineyards with a meticulous eye. After barrel-aging for 22 months, the merlot emerges with a full body and a crisp taste, and bright cherry and cranberry lend complexity to the pinot noir’s deep hue and dense poetry. A deep-colored syrah, bursting with the aroma of ripe fruit and knowing glances, rounds out the package.
On February 1, 2011, Linganore Winecellars' staff members celebrated with a barrel tasting. They had just finalized the winery's transition to operating on strictly sustainable wind power.
Founded in 1971 by the Aellen family, Linganore has since expanded in every way, from its grape selection to new bottling rooms to a renovation of the offices in the 19th-century barn on the grounds. Today, the sustainable winery stocks more wines than ever before, with its award-winning selection including traditional grape varietals, fruit wines, and specialty bottles. The idyllic winery routinely hosts events as well, with concerts, tastings, and tours taking place 361 days out of the year, granting the grapes four days to just hang out.
Situated along the pastoral countryside, the family-owned-and-operated Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard produces flavorful Bordeaux-style wines in a charming, rustic setting. With today's Groupon, you and a fermentation fanatic get a full tasting of Sugarloaf's award-winning wines, from the brick-red cabernet Franc to the French-oak-aged chardonnay. Once you've introduced your taste buds to each potential grape suitor, you and your tasting-mate each get a glass of preferred wine and a scrumptious assortment of cheeses, complete with olive tapenade to pair. You'll also get two souvenir wine glasses, engraved with the vineyard's name, to take home and display next to other fine glassware, such as your Wrestlemania '87 juice glasses.
Praised by the Washington Post as "undoubtedly the most stylish gathering spot in the Maryland suburbs," Ranazul's chic, comfortable interior sets the tone for shared plates and conversation over bottles of wine. Traditional cold tapas arrive at tables during dinner as slabs of raw salmon over seasoned avocado and briny seaweed, or tender, pan-seared scallops surrounded by potatoes, spring vegetables, and crab meat. Meals are paired with selections from a wine list replete with more than 220 bottles and 32 options by the glass, from light, sparkling prosecco to sustainably-farmed pinot noir from New Zealand.
The Fair Hill shopping center doesn't look like wine country from the outside, but judging by the steady stream of freshly corked bottles that pass through The Winery at Olney's doors, looks are certainly deceiving. Despite its unorthodox location, the winery maintains close ties with global winemaking hot spots; instead of growing its own grapes in spare tanning beds, the staff sources varietals from locations as far away as California, Chile, and France. The winemakers take over from there and ferment the juice, rack the barrels, and bottle more than 25 different wines onsite.
Thanks to this exhaustive work, The Winery at Olney has a bottle for virtually every palate. The chardonnay's tropical and citrusy notes give way to an oak-tinged finished, and the zinfandel's hints of spice add balance to the luscious flavors of ripe blackberries. In addition to these single-varietal options, the winery also blends complementary fruits into some of its wines to form hybrid creations, including green-apple riesling and cranberry shiraz.
With all of these options to consider, the task of choosing the right wine might seem daunting. The Winery at Olney’s staffers help beginners define their palates with the store’s U-Vint section. With the helpful guidance of a winery expert, visitors can make their own wine by selecting a varietal and then adding water and yeast to the grapes. The mix then spends 30–40 days fermenting and settling while the winery's team helps by racking and filtering the juice. Customers then return to apply custom labels and foil capsules to 28–30 bottles of their personalized wine.