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De Vinos

Submitted by on June 9, 2010 – 11:40 AMNo Comment
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2001 18th St.
Washington, DC
202.986.5002
Est.   2006

*Over 150 Belgian beers + over 100 craft brews

At times it seems the nation’s capital is filled with either redundant little package stores with 40 types of generic beer in cans, or haughty wine emporia that carry nine styles of Lambic and nothing brewed outside of Benelux.  But there are one or two exceptions.

One of these exceptions is De Vinos (www.de-vinos.com), in Adams Morgan. (Its sister store – D’vines, in Columbia Heights – is another.)  Okay, technically De Vinos is located at the complicated intersection of U Street, 18th Street, and Florida Avenue. But De Vinos itself is simple:  Tons of good beer and wine in a comfortable shop – small, but with a lot to offer.

George Aguilar and Lorena Wharff came to DC from Guatemala and El Salvador respectively, and ultimately came to the conclusion that the District needed a beer and wine store to fill the gap between the common and the snooty.  When they finally settled into Adams Morgan, they had found the right spot.  The selection they offer appeals to a wide range of tastes, and Adams Morgan is not lacking in diversity.

Aguilar says the goal was to create and inviting atmosphere; “an open ambience,” he says, “but shopable.”  So the space – it feels just a bit larger than the average living room – is not wall-to-wall bottles, but breathes, like a small café with one waitperson.  And yet they manage to display an extraordinary number of liquid delicacies.

The wine selection is generous, as the name “De Vino” should suggest.  But the beer choices are just as substantial.  The shelf to the left of the entrance displays 150+ varieties, and that’s just the Belgian section.  In fact, Belgian beer is De Vinos’ specialty, and the full spectrum of that nation’s brewing output beckons the curious explorer.  But just because Belgian beers get the spotlight doesn’t mean the selection is at all limited.

Various other morsels are spread around; six-packs of Dogfish Head, bottles of new arrivals, and the occasional German mini-keg.  The back wall – a line of beer-filled refrigerators – offers a wonderful indoor window-shopping experience.  Rows of colorful bottles – notably scores of American craft beers (local favorites among them) – offer unfathomable possibilities.  As if to provide a clear contrast, a small corner of the coolers almost embarrassingly displays the standard Anheuser-Busch and Miller suitcases, as if to say “you can get one of these, but you’ll need all 12 cans to equal one hearty bottle of Rogue.”

One more pleasant surprise awaits the peruser, as a lone tap sticks from the wall to the left of the fridges.  Every week or so a different beer flows through the spigot, offering a taste of some new, something different, something of which you might want to grab a six-pack.  There is no charge, although customers are encouraged to enjoy the tastes offered by the store, rather than bringing gallon jugs from home.

The owners work through dozens of distributors, always looking for new options for their loyal patrons (and who among their patrons has reason to be anything but loyal?).  Aguilar says “there’s a little story behind every brewery,” and the crew at De Vinos loves sharing those stories.

To a one, the owners and employees are friendly and helpful and clearly enthusiastic about their work.  Good beer and wine is a passion, and De Vinos is a place for the passionate.  Not the pathetic drunkard, not the pretentious pseudo-savant, but the sincere appreciator of quality drink