I recently read this post and photo montage of great wine bars in the world from Travel and Leisure Magazine Europe’s Best Wine Bars and was amazed at the diversity of concepts. I’ve been contacting many wine bars in the Washington, D.C. area recently about their special events and educational wine class offerings and I’m noticing that they all have different concepts of what a wine bar should be. Some local wine bars have a chef and a full menu, while others simply serve charcuterie and glasses of wine. The majority have beer programs as well, but the commitment to beer varies across the board. Almost all have some type of specialty wine preservation system like Enomatic that uses Nitrogen or Argon as inert gases that displace air in the bottle and preserve the wine to some extent.
The question is how does one differentiate what designates a “wine bar” vs. a restaurant? If a restaurant has a bar and they primarily sell wine, does that make the restaurant a wine bar as well? If a wine bar has a chef and also sells wine, does that simply mean it’s a restaurant that sells wine as well? And what about the situation where a wine bar/restaurant also has a license to sell off-premise wine and beer – shouldn’t that be called a wine bartailer? In Virginia, there’s the interesting combination of a restaurant and a separate establishment next door of an off-premise wine retailer. Due to unusual laws, this allows consumers to walk into the wine store, purchase a bottle of wine and consume it next door in the restaurant dining area. Virginia doesn’t allow consumers to bring their own wine into a restaurant (also known as “corkage”) but it does allow these special establishments. These type of restaurants normally charge a fee for the privilege, but it is usually must cheaper to do this than to purchase a wine off a restaurant’s wine list.
I’m going to be doing more research into wine bars and their special event requirements as a I spend more time marketing my services as a wine professional for hire as a wine educator. Future blog posts will cover how wine bars increase their profitability through special events and special programs including private events. Hopefully, this information will help both existing wine bars and potential wine bar owners in their decision-making and will increase the quality and revenue generation of wine bars throughout the world – Cheers!