Friday the 13th may be unlucky for campers at Crystal Lake and Tupac Shakur, [ETA: … and metro riders and, sadly, Tim Russert. Perhaps we were too quick to mock?] but tomorrow is going to be a lucky day for Cleveland Park residents and wine lovers throughout the District. Enology, the new wine bar from the team that brought Veritas to Dupont Circle, opens tomorrow night where the Zebra Lounge once stood.
Enology (an Americanized spelling of the study of winemaking) takes the service model that has been working VERY well for Veritas and adds an All-American twist: everything the restaurant serves is domestically produced, from the wines and beers to the cheeses, charcuterie and chocolates. Even their extensive list of spirits is American! They joke that the only import in the place is the General Manager, Jamie Smith.
I stopped by this afternoon and had a chance to chat with owner Adam Manson, GM Smith, and Assistant General Manager Rob Jemio. Pleased with last night’s mock service (“a huge improvement from one night to the next,” they said), the team is looking forward to their official opening tomorrow night. After spending just a few minutes talking with them, so am I.
Check out their impressive Le Sommelier dispensing system and 78 reasons to visit Enology after the jump.
Enology will be offering 78 American wines by the glass, including several from the East Coast. They are able to do this because of their state-of-the-art dispensing system, a series of Le Sommelier Cruvinet-style storage units that flush the bottles with nitrogen to preserve the integrity of the wine once opened. This extends the shelf life of an open bottle from days to weeks and allows Enology to offer significantly more by-the-glass selections without fear of waste.
When I asked him to name a few of his current favorites, Manson mentioned Deep Creek Cellars’ Watershed Red – a blend from western Maryland – and Long Island’s Wölffer Estate rosé. The marquis selection, a 2004 Faust by Quintessa cabernet sauvignon, commands $23 a glass, but most wines are priced at less than $10 a glass.
For those who want to expand their horizons, Enology’s tasting flights offer great value and tremendous variety. Twenty-nine flights feature trios of wines that share a specific characteristic, region, or grape, and they run the gamut from sparkling wines to red and white dessert offerings. Creative touches abound in the naming – Tré Syrah Syrah, Ports of Call, and Pretty in Pink all made me smile as I read over the list, while Six Atmospheres (the pressure inside a bottle of sparkling wine) and Flight 3238 (their address) forced me to stop and think. Prices for the flights range from $10 to $18, and Manson assured me that every wine available by the glass (including the Faust by Quintessa) can be found in at least one of the flights.
Enology may be a wine bar first and foremost, but it’s clear that the rest of their menu is no mere afterthought. A fine selection of American beers from brewers like Dogfish Head, Abita and Pyramid are available by the bottle, and an inspired list of cocktails and (vodka) martinis makes good use of the American-made spirits they stock. The “Warren Hills” – a blend of cranberry juice, lemonade and tea-infused Hangar One vodka – sounds incredibly refreshing for a hot summer day. Attention has also been given to the selections of cheese, charcuterie and chocolate that currently make up the entirety of their food offerings (a range of flatbreads is in the works, but is still being tweaked).
The bright, clean space seats almost 100 people, with room for an additional 16 on the patio outside. Decor is simple and tends toward dark wood, marble, white leather and wine-themed pop art – a far cry from the animal prints and closed-in spaces of the site’s former occupant. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly Metro-accessible. Located on the corner of Wisconsin and Macomb (across from Cactus Cantina and just up the street from 2 Amys, the nearest Metro stop is the Red Line’s Cleveland Park stop – almost a mile away at the intersection of Connecticut and Macomb. Metered street parking is available nearby, so driving may be your best bet.
Enology will be open from 4 PM to 12:45 Sunday through Thursday and until 2 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. They don’t plan to take reservations, though parties of 8 or more are definitely encouraged to contact the bar in advance.
Enology Wine Bar
3238 Wisconsin Avenue, NW