Since its first event in 2008, the Chesapeake Bay Wine Festival has steadily added to its multisensory feast of libations, food, and live sounds. Originally conceived to highlight Maryland's wines, beers, and local delicacies, the festival now brings wines from around the world to its bayside location. White tents shield tasters from rain, sunburn, and any curious fish who might try to leap into their goblets. Each year, the festival benefits an array of community- and family-focused organizations.
As guests walk into 49 West, they encounter exposed brick and open bookcases under soft and natural lighting, all of which come together to foster a cozy atmosphere for dining, sipping coffee, or socializing. Created in the style of European restaurant-cafés, guests come to casually dine for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or to check out hanging artwork from the brushes of a monthly rotating local artist. The staff serves cups of coffee, lattes, and spiked coffee drinks all day alongside carefully crafted dishes of steamed scrambled eggs, homemade scones and muffins, and sandwiches. At dinner, they pour martinis, wines, bourbons, and cognacs to complement the chef’s seafood, chicken, and vegetable entrees. As patrons savor their bites, the melodies from jazz groups playing nightly set the evening’s rhythm.
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 cornmeal fried oysters, artisanal cheese plates, 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.
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.
The sandwich assemblers at The Corned Beef Factory know that the best sandwiches are built carefully, and not just thrown together. They pile deli meats and cheeses onto Kaiser rolls, sub rolls, or pieces of rye or white bread before dressing them with Russian dressing, mustard, and other accoutrements. Sandwiches can be paired with homemade sides such as crab soup or coleslaw, or desserts such as lemon meringue pie, red velvet cake, or strawberry cheesecake. The Corned Beef Factory also caters events, offering sandwich and salad trays or a five-foot submarine sandwich that can be stuffed with a few crowbars and delivered to a buddy in jail.