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.
Acacia Bistro & Wine Bar is located in the corner of a blocky office building in the decidedly uncharming Van Ness stretch of Connecticut Avenue. The interior is modern, neat and tidy, leaving the focus on the contents of the huge wine list and the creative menu. The underlying theme is Mediterranean--so you can find a variety of tapas, charcuterie and cheese plates and fresh pasta dishes. At lunch, paninis and burgers are the stars of the show, along with a few, well-chosen entrées. With so few decent restaurants in the immediate area, Acacia Bistro is the one place where you can depend upon a solid meal and a fine glass of wine. There’s also an ample patio area for outside dining.
Chef Nicolas Guardado and his wife Reyna infuse Spanish and Latin American dishes with vibrant and diverse flavors, earning their restaurant a spot on Zagat’s latest Tapas Tops list. Like jazz solos, small plates come in hot and cool varieties and have garnered applause on at least one occasion. Pan-seared scallops paddle toward mouths on portobello rafts and waves of basil oil ($8), and béchamel fritters brim with chicken and serrano ham ($5.95). Unlike their famous cousin, the french fry, deep-fried spanish potatoes dress themselves in smooth tomato sauce and spicy aioli ($5.95). Teeming with marinated tilapia, just-squeezed lemon juice, and a hint of cilantro, the ceviche ($7.50) at Guardado's tastes fresher than a starlight mint plucked fresh from the vine.
Armed with a Woodstone brick oven and an unwavering faith in freshness, chef Aaron M. Tootill presides over Fire & Sage’s menu of brick-oven flatbread pizzas, daily made cornbread, and a piping panoply of gourmet entrees. The signature shrimp and pancetta pizza ($14) sneaks to tables cloaked in gooey mozzarella, garlic, and a rich basil pesto, while the wild mushroom ($13) adorns itself with shiitakes, portobellos, and bright green 1-Ups. The short-rib sandwich ($14) ensconces caramelized onions and muenster cheese between its ciabatta bun and arrives escorted by a hearty chalice of three onion soup. Glittering lochs of mustard caper sauce encircle the towers of jumbo-lump crab cake ($31), whose gates open onto a dessert of barrel-aged bourbon pecan-ice-cream sundae artfully flecked with nougatine, pecan brownie, and drizzled glyphs of butterscotch ($8).
Evocative aromas ascend from swirling chalices at Veritas Wine Bar, a brick-walled lounge where sommeliers pair more than 70 wines by the glass with a menu of cheese and charcuterie plates. Grape-infused elixirs gush from a temperature-controlled tap system, ensuring uniform sips unmarred by sudden climate shifts or clumsy fire breathers. Reds and whites from Italy, South Africa, and New Zealand slosh into individual glasses or join forces to create flights. Globetrotting artisanal cheeses fall under four categories—blue, cow, goat, and sheep—and deliciously mingle with charcuterie selections. Sippers can scrawl an appetizing epilogue across the evening’s feast by noshing on chocolate morsels laced with slow-cooked caramel or pistachio butter, which silence petulant sweet teeth without preemptively donning a bedtime retainer.