Ordering a restaurant’s house wine will save a few bucks, but it often means sipping some generic, flavorless varietal.
But some wine bars and restaurants are upping their house wine game, which means that vino lovers can save money and get a good deal. Vapiano, which has locations in Reston and D.C., serves a good Montepulciano for $5 a glass, according to Mark Jahnke. The price drops to $3.95 during happy hour.
Zorba’s Café in Dupont Circle pours Kourtaki, a dry Greek wine that comes in both red and white varietals sold by the carafe, half carafe or glass. The restaurant charges $4.25 for a glass, $19.95 for half carafe or $21.95 for a liter. Experts consider the unoaked white Kourtaki, which has hints of pine resin, an especially good value for the money.
Iron Gate delivers another good option to go Greek. The restaurant has its own private label wine, which comes in both red and white varietals. It charges $8 a glass and $32 a bottle for the Tselops Moschofilero Rize (white) and the Tselepos Agiorgitiko. Rizes, which means roots, is the name of the village where chef Anthony Chittum's wife was born. Wine director Brent Kroll picked up the wine after visiting the winemaker in Greece.
Bloomingdale’s Boundary Stone offers two excellent house wines for $5 during happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday though Thursday. They include the 2012 Fairvalley Pinotage, a South African red (which won the silver medal in the Dallas Wine Competition) and a 2013 Stella Pinot Grigio.
Those drinking in a group should head to Jug & Table, the recently opened wine bar in the bottom floor of Roofers Union. It serves wine by the jug for $25 during happy hour, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The jug holds 10 glasses of wine, so that’s $2.50 for each glass of Altos de Hormigas, an Argentinian Malbec, or an Italian white, Gavi di Gavi. Two of D.C.’s most popular wine bars, Proof and Vinoteca, also offer good deals on their house wines during happy hour. Proof serves $5 house red and white wines in the bar and lounge from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Vinoteca has a daily happy hour — even on weekends — from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and offers 15 wines by the glass for $5.