Leading D.C. Sommeliers and Chef’s are Urging Washingtonians to Discover Georgia: the Birthplace of Wine and the Next Big Wine Region.
Georgia, the country not the state, boasts the oldest winemaking tradition in the world dating back 8,000 years, 525 unique varietals and downright delicious wines. The Wall Street Journal’s just asked “Is the Country of Georgia the Next Great Wine Destination?” Thanks to somms and chefs who are emphatically answering yes, D.C. is ahead of the curve and Georgian wines are finding new audiences on wine lists at some of the areas trendiest restaurants. Here is our list of the top 12 restaurants where you can discover an amazing bottle of Saperavi, Rkatsiteli or Mtsvane.
1 Compass Rose
The awesome Compass Rose is a neighborhood tavern focused on international street food including their infamous adjaruli khachapuri. Owner Rose Previte fell in love with Georgia while in Moscow and Compass Rose has been serving Tsinandali and Saperavi from Teliani Valley as their house wines as well as featuring Bagrationi in their signature Compass Rose cocktail since their open. These guys are so Georgian they have even started appointing toastmasters a la Georgian Supra (Georgian toast driven feasts) in their new Bedouin tent. Maria Bastasch, General Manager, this spring is highlighting qvevri wines from Orgo by the glass and Our Wine Amber Rkatsiteli by the bottle. Also be on the look out for a special Saperavi Rose collaboration with Schuchmann Wines that should hit the menu this summer.
2 Red Hen
Thanks to the delicious food of Chef Michael Friedman and the palate of Sommelier Sebastian Zutant, Red Hen has been recognized as one of DC top restaurants since its debut. Sebastian focuses on natural wines made with low intervention which is a perfect fit since Georgia and its qvevri wines are the original low-intervention style. You can enjoy some Saperavi from Orgo by the glass and a wide variety of natural wines from Shalauri, Our Wine and Jakeli by the bottle.
Maketto, DC Eaters 2015 Best Restaurant, presents an unique interpretation on Cambodian and Taiwanese cooking inspired by the people and flavors of those respective cultures. Wine Directer Sophia Florence-Stevens has identified Georgian wines as particularly well suited for the unique cuisine of Maketto with a new spring line up of wines by the glass including wine from Teliani Valley, Bagrationi, Chateau Mukhrani and Orgo. The pairing of Semi-Sweet Ojaleshi with the steamed pork or leek Bao dumplings is a revelation not to be missed.
This Penn Quarter gem, which was in the top 10 Best Restaurants since 2014 is paired with Red Apron Charcuterie and therefore features a meat centric menu. Brent Kroll, the Sommelier here and for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, has long highlighted wines from Georgia here but new for the spring he has brought in the new Orgo Rkatsiteli 2014 by the glass, a fantastic amber wine to pair with their delicious cured meats. Look for the Saperavi as well by the bottle.
Ankara, recently got listed by Zagat as deserving a lot more attention and one reason was their expanding wine menu. This authentic Turkish restaurant in the heart of Dupont Circle has carriedTeliani Valley Mukuzani since its open, but now for their spring/summer menu they are also featuring Teliani Valley Tsinandali for happy hour as well as pulling in two qvevri wines from Vinoterra, one amber Rkatsiteli and one Saperavi. You can get $5 glasses for happy hour or a flight of 3 Georgian wines for just $15.
Flight, is a beautiful wine bar with an awesome concept. Of course you can by wines like normal but Sommelier Swati Bose crafts flights based on themes that range from varietals to the more ethereal. Next to the Verizon Center and in the heart of China town, Flight features the Orgo Rkatsiteli amber wine on multiple flights that can be paired with epic eats.
7 The Sovereign
The Sovereign in Georgetown, was one of the areas most anticipated new restaurants of 2016. So what does a neighborhood bar and bistro committed to celebrating the rustic cuisine and fabled brewing culture of Belgium have to do with Georgian wine? Well a lot thinks Sommelier Brent Kroll who is featuring Georgian amber wines on the list. Check out the rare Orgo Kisi by the bottle which Brent thinks pairs excellently with the menus ingredient-driven Belgian dishes. Look out for the Vinoterra Mtsvane Amber wine to hit the menu by the glass soon.
Grapeseed Bistro in Bethesda is run by head local legend Chef Jeff Heinemen. Jeff, with his unpretentious down to earth demeanor, has racked up countless accolades through out his career for his skill in the kitchen. For 16 years he has been crafting an exceptional wine list at Grapeseed and he has now pulled in two Georgian qvevri wines, the Orgo Rkatsiteli 2014 and the Vinoterra Saperavi 2014. Great spot for lunch, happy hour and dinner.
EatBar, the reincarnation of Nathan Anda’s first restaurant in Arlington, just opened in SE DC on Barracks Row to much acclaim. This fun restaurant features a wide variety of cured meats and snacks the feature Anda’s progression as the regions prominent charcuterie maker. The wine list is featuring amber wines so make sure to check out the diverse pairing opportunities for the Orgo Rkatsiteli 2014 by the glass and the Saperavi by the bottle.
Established in 2005, Domku is Washington’s first Slavic and Scandinavian restaurant and is featured often. Head chef Kera Carpenter, a Peace Corp alum, has been to Georgia many times and loves its cuisine and 8,000 year old wine tradition. The Teliani Valley Mukuzani is a staple on the wine list, but a keep a look out for a new amber wine by the glass as they revamp for their spring/summer menu.
11 Tabard Inn
The Tabard Inn some of the best out door and semi outdoor dining in all of DC. Their decadent food and lengthy wine list are a DC standard for continued excellence. Tabards Sommelier Dora Lobo and General Manager Mariana Luts have just pulled in the Vinoterra Rkatsiteli 2014 amber wine to augment their fantastic list and for its versatile food pairings.
12 Iron Gate
This fine dining restaurant from head Chef Tony Chittum presents dishes inspired by Greek, Sardinian and southern Italian cuisine in one of the most classic DC settings. Brent Kroll has crafted an extensive and iconic list of Greek wines and starting to add more Georgian wines. Whether you are there for lunch or dinner make sure to ask Bar Manager Abi Huntington about what she thinks of Georgian wines and how they pair with their mediterranean dishes. Check out the Orgo Saperavi and Orgo Rkatsiteli by the bottle.