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Nov 16, 2012 10:12 AM

Seeking wine shop with knowledgeable, helpful staff NOVA or DC

I would like to find a wine shop where I can explain to the staff there what I am looking for and get some good recommendations in various price ranges. In my experience, one sign of staff who are knowledgeable and helpful is that they will ask for details about the food that the wine will be paired with. Another good sign is an ability to find quality wines in just about any price range, and discuss the trade-offs of spending more or less.

I would find a place like this in the Springfield/Burke/Lorton/Fairfax area or downtown DC (Metro Center/Chinatown/Union Station/NOMA areas ideally).

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  1. Schneiders of Capitol Hill, on Mass Ave, walkable from Union Station:

    6 Replies
    1. re: Teddybear

      Thanks for all the suggestions. I went to Schneiders and asked for a recommendation based on the meal we had planned. They recommended just one bottle, no other options, but said it was a great wine at an amazing value. I generally prefer having a discussion of some options, but since they were so sure about this recommendation I went ahead and bought it. Got it home with great anticipation and… eh. It was OK. I’m not going to shun them based on just one bottle, and my price range ($20-$25) was on the low side, but if someone hands me a bottle and says “here’s your wine” I expect to love it.

      Bottom line, I’ll go back because it’s convenient and they obviously have some good wines there, but I’ll try to have more of a conversation about my options.

      1. re: KeithW

        I'm just seeing this thread and have a few recommendations for you for next time:

        Oakton Wine Shop
        The Wine House in Downtown Fairfax- although I can only vouch for the owner, since I've only chatted with him. I think his name is Michael.
        It may be out of the area you want, but I had a good experience at The Vineyard in McLean. Not many wine shop owners open up a $100 bottle of Burgundy and offer you a taste.

        1. re: KeithW

          In fairness to Schneiders I feel I should offer an update. I actually bought 2 bottles of the same wine (the one they recommended) back in December. The second bottle stayed in the wine rack until last night when I pulled it out, thinking "I didn't love this wine in December, but it's a casual Tuesday night dinner so why not". And I ended up really liking it -- much more than I did back in December. Maybe it was the food match or just my mood and expectations. So I want to upgrade my "eh, OK" to "good or very good, and good value".

          Another bit of evidence about my (low) qualifications as a wine critic.

        2. re: Teddybear

          Yesterday I went in to Schneiders to get some aquavit. The first person who helped me didn't know what it was and had to ask someone else.

          I've gotten some really good wine and spirits there, but I generally go in with something already in mind.

          1. re: eam531

            Well I guess times have changed -- and that's really too bad because they often steered me to the best quality wines and spirits that my budget could afford.

        3. Calvert Woodley. But wine only not spirits. They are near the van ness metro.

          1. Cork & Fork on 14th st in DC is great.

            1. I like Unwind. THey have 2 locations both in Alexandria. Helpful staff and nice variety. My favorite area in the shop is the "$10 and under" shelf.


              Bradlee Shopping Center:
              3690-J King Street Alexandria,
              VA 22307 Phone: 703-820-8600

              Belle view Shopping Center:
              1600-A Belle View Blvd. Alexandria,
              VA 22302 Phone: 571-384-6880

                1. re: alkapal

                  Alkapal, I really like Arrowine too. And their meats and cheeses are excellent as well. But the wine team, though usually very good, can be a bit hit or miss. I was informed by one of them that extra dry champagnes were generally drier than brut champagnes. I just stood there going, "What should I say now..." The same guy later acted dismissively when I asked if they had Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc. I realize it is not a great wine, but for the price I kind of like it.
                  Hmm... I didn't mean to be so dismissive myself! I still like Arrowine a lot, and they have a very good selection of wines and champagnes, plus the extras the shop offers are very cool.
                  Plus olive oils on tap, how cool is that? LOL!

                  1. re: Ziv

                    ziv, if i had to pick either their wine or their cheese/charcuterie, i'm with the cheese/charcuterie. their wine is fine, and as you say, some of their wine personnel are better than others. they do have a huge selection, too.

                    i can't stand wine snobs who work as salespersons. maybe, too, in general. Ha!

                    as an aside, red, white & bleu does cheese and charcuterie, but are not nearly as knowledgeable or package cheeses with name, price per pound, and price per item, as does arrowine. maybe RWB is on a learning curve. hope so!