Tysons Corner, VA

Blend 111, a new restaurant and wine bar, will celebrate its grand opening on Thursday in Vienna.

Touting itself as “the region’s first biodynamic restaurant and wine bar,” Blend 111 will feature food and wine from Spain, France and Venezuela, according to a press release.

The locally-owned restaurant (111 Church Street NW, Suite 101) will offer a prix-fixe lunch and dinner options, cold-pressed juices and a “micro-cafe” with organic coffee, pour-over-brewed coffee and espresso-based drinks.

Head Chef Nicolas Terrassin is from Châtellerault, a small village in France, and has worked in restaurants in France, Québec and the D.C. area. Michael Biddick is the restaurant’s owner, sommelier and chief coffee roaster.

The dinner menu includes choices like sustainable scallops and chickpea salad, while the brunch menu offers Venezuelan scrambled eggs and oatmeal brulee.

“Everything from your morning coffee, post work out organic cold press juices, to weekend brunch, happy hour and late-night dining is available at Blend 111 — all offering unique experiences,” the press release said.

Photo via Blend 111/Facebook

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The Market at Tysons Corner finally reopened after moving to a smaller location.

The new convenience store location made its debut on July 30 on level two of the mall. Patrons can find it near the Nordstrom.

The market continues to offer a variety of goods to customers, including soft drinks, snacks, toiletries and other items someone would expect to find in a convenience store. The shop will also sell packs of beer and bottles of wine.

The Tysons Market won’t be the only convenience store in the mall — 7-Eleven is expected to open on level one of the mall. A sign indicated that 7-Eleven applied for their license to sell alcohol.

Hours of operation for the Market are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

You may walk by Wine Outlet everyday when you’re on Church Street and assume the prices are outrageous, so you never go in. However, each store located at 114 Church Street NW Vienna1137 Walker Road Great Falls, and 6727 Curran Street McLean, you’ll find a small, friendly wine and beer store that features reasonably priced wines, cheese, breads, desserts and a small selection of meats paired nicely with a friendly staff!

I didn’t know they have a cheese counter or that on Friday’s and Saturday’s they have fresh baked goods delivered.

Here’s some more useful info:

  • Wines as cheap as $6 per bottle
  • Beer on tap
  • A large selection of USA Wines, along with imported bottles as well
  • Great selection of craft beers
  • Tastings: Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday 1-4 p.m.
  • Free delivery within 5 miles, or delivery outside of 5 miles for a small fee
  • They make gift baskets
  • They will price match!
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WWBG: Grapes of Spain

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This week’s Guide is written by Arash Tafakor of Dominion Wine and Beer.

Spain has arguably one of the most amazing arrays of grape varietals in the world.

With over six hundred types of wine making grapes to choose from, Spanish wine makers have an arsenal of choices to make that perfect wine, and Spanish wine comes close to perfection.

Going to your local wine store’s Spanish section could be a bit overwhelming. Spanish wine varietals are confusing even for me. I’m going to write a quick guide to help you navigate and understand Spain’s most popular varietals, but before we can go into that a consumer must first interpret Spanish labeling terms.

Most Spanish wines are labeled based on how long the wine is aged and the region the wine comes from. If a label has the term Joven, this indicates the wine has not been aged in oak.

The term Crianza means red wines are aged at least two years with a minimum of six months in oak barrels, Reserva means red wines are aged at least three years with a minimum of one year in oak barrels, and the term Gran Reserva means the wines are aged at least five years with a minimum of eighteen months in oak.

Also on the label of Spanish wine is the region the wine comes from. Premium wine regions of Spain include Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorat, Catalunya, Rias Baixas, Jumilla and many other smaller regions.

Here are some of Spain’s most popular grape varietals:

Tempranillo

Known as Spain’s most popular red varietal, this is the main grape in Spain’s Rioja region. This grape gives full or medium-bodied reds, with medium acidity, medium tannins and red fruit flavors. One of my favorite Rioja’s that uses predominately Tempranillo is the 2103 Viña Pomal (by the glass at our wine bar upstairs).

This wine has been given over a year of oak ageing, making it a perfectly smooth balanced wine with powerful fruit flavors. Regions like Toro, Ribera del Duero and La Mancha also widely use Tempranillo in red wines.

Garnacha (Grenache)

Garnacha grapes are large thin-skinned grapes that ripen perfectly in hot, dry climates such as Spain’s. Garnacha wines are full bodied and high in alcohol content. Garnacha typically have red fruit character with spicy notes and a low amount of tannins. Garnacha is grown in many premium wine-growing regions of Spain such as Calatayud and Aragon.

My favorite Garnachas are the 2016 Espelt Garnacha and 2016 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos. Both retail around 12 dollars and deliver excellent value and quality. If you don’t mind spending more, the 2016 Alto Moncayo Garnacha is a world class Spanish Garnacha.

Monastrell (Mourvedre)

Monastrell is the most significant grape of the region of Jumilla. Typically difficult to grow, Monastrell is a wine with high levels of tannin, high alcohol content and a slight sweetness. Monastrell’s are typically earthy with hints of herbs and very low level of fruit notes making it a rich savory wine.

My favorite Monastrell is the 2016 Juan Gil Monstrell. This wine is aged in French oak for one year making it a perfect wine that balances fruit, alcohol and oak tones.

Albarino

One of my favorite white varietals in the world, Albarino is grown in the Riax Baixas region of Spain. Usually unoaked, this grape variety gives light to medium-bodied wines with fresh green and citrus fruit and refreshing high acidity. Albarino pairs perfectly with any seafood dish as well as on it’s own for casual consumption.

My favorite Albarino is the 2018 Nessa Albarino. This fruit driven acidic white is light, crisp and extremely food friendly. Excellent alternative to your everyday whites such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon blanc.

As always, these wines are available at Dominion Wine and Beer to go as well as upstairs at our wine bar. We pour Viña Pomal by the glass but others can be opened by the bottle with a small corkage fee.

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WWBG: Drink Pink

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This week’s Guide is written by Arash Tafakor of Dominion Wine and Beer.

Rosé wine sales in the U.S are increasing year after year. Why this change? Simply put, quality and affordability.

After decades of Americans categorizing any pink colored wine with the sweet White Zinfandel variety, the U.S wine consumer has discovered the light, dry, crisp and perfectly fruity rosé wine. Winemakers, instead of using excess red wine grapes to make Rosé, they are now growing those quality grapes specifically for rosé wines.

As winemakers start off with the intention of making rosé from the beginning, the quality of these wines has improved dramatically.

What makes rosés pink? A true rosé is not a blend of white and red wine. Instead, like red wine, rosé wine is made from red wine grapes. But instead of leaving the wine in contact with the pressed grape skin to ferment with the juice for an extensive period, rosé producers keep the skins in contact with the juice for only a brief period of time.

Then the pinkish juice is drained from the skins, resulting in a color ranging from a pale pink to a deep salmon or coral. Winemakers make rosé from the red grape varieties traditionally grown in their particular region, grapes best suited to the local soil and climate.

Rosés from the entire world typically display a range of colors, textures and flavors. Yet all rosés have some common characteristics: they tend to be bright with great acidity, fresh, crisp and dry. The most popular rosé producing region in the world is Provence, France. There, rosé is a part of everyday life, widely embraced as the best lunchtime, seaside and all occasion wine.

This spirit of Provence lifestyle has started to catch on. Wine makers from around the world are making more rosés than ever before as part of their wineries. Amazing dry style rosés are also being made from California to Virginia, and all at a great affordable price. With the spring and summer here, this is a great time to come in and try a fresh 2018 vintage dry rosé for any occasion.

Rosé food pairings: Rosé’s versatility really comes out when it comes to food pairings. You can almost drink a dry rosé with any meal.  For international cuisines, rosé pairs well with spicy Asian dishes, Mexican, Italian pizza, sushi and even Indian curries.

American fare, rosé’s go well with burgers, salads and even soups and stews. With meat you can pair a rosé with any BBQ as well as ham, steak, turkey and veal. Fish and seafood; grilled fish goes extremely well with rosé as well as steamed fish and lobster.

Here are a two new 2018 vintage Rosé wines we recommend at Dominion Wine and Beer

Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d’Aix en Rosé Provence, France 2018

The 2018 vintage Rosés from Southeast France were grown in ideal weather conditions according to the Vins De Provence association. This Rosé from a benchmark producer of the delicious, dry rosé for which Provence is famous, the Commanderie was founded by the Knights Templar in the 13th century, and is home to a proud viticultural tradition with more than 160 acres of sustainably grown vineyards. 91 points from Wine Enthusiast.

Wölffer Estate Summer in a Bottle Rosé Long Island, NY 2018

Easily our best-selling Rosé the past few years, Summer in a Bottle not only comes with a catchy name but also a beautiful package making it great for a wine for a picnic or an elegant dinner party.

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(Updated 9:30 a.m.) Bars in Virginia can now legally advertise their happy hour specials, so here’s a look at what some of the local bars have to offer.

The law had previously allowed bars to advertise the hours but not the prices, but a lawsuit from Chef Geoff’s in Tysons led to the state legislature to amend the law.

So in honor of Chef Geoff’s success, here are some of the happy hours around Tysons:

  • Chef Geoff’s Tysons (8045 Leesburg Pike): Wednesday-Sunday from 3-7 p.m. and all day Monday and Tuesday until 9 p.m. The happy hour specials include $7 wines, $8 cocktails, and $1 off all draft beers. In addition to discounted bar snacks, all pizzas are $4 and burgers are half priced.
  • Paddy Barry’s (8150 Leesburg Pike): Monday-Friday from 3-7 p.m. Domestic beers are discounted by $2, with $3 off all appetizers. House red and white wines are $5.
  • BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse (8027 Leesburg Pike): Monday-Friday from 3-7 p.m. and from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Specials vary by day.
  • Eddie V’s (7900 Tysons One Place): Monday-Sunday from 4-7 p.m. Cocktails and wine glasses are $8 and there are discounts on oysters and other small seafood dishes.
  • La Sandia (7852 Tysons Corner Center): Sunday-Friday from 4-9 p.m. Margaritas are available normal or frozen from $5 to $7. Tacos are three for $8 and a sampler platter of guacamole, quesadilla, wings, taquitos and Mexican corn is available for $15.
  • Gordon Biersch (7861 Tysons Corner Center): Sunday-Friday from 3-6:30 p.m. All beers, wines and cocktails are $2 off.
  • Earls Kitchen and Bar (7902 Tysons One Place): Every day from 3-6 p.m. and Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 p.m.-closing. Most food is discounted and drink discounts vary by day.
  • Wildfire (Tysons Galleria, 2001 International Dr): Weekdays from 3-6 p.m. Staff at the restaurant said the restaurant offers half-price appetizers, $7 cocktails and “a couple dollars off” wines and beers.
  • ENTYSE Wine Bar and Lounge (Tysons Galleria/Ritz Carlton, 1700 Tysons Blvd): Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. Drinks and fries are $5, with a flight of rare wines available for $55.
  • Greenhouse Bistro (2070 Chain Bridge Road): Monday-Friday from 4-7 p.m. Cocktails, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio for $6. Sangria and draught beers are $5. Appetizers, pizzas and fries range from $5-10.
  • Xtreme Wings and Bar (8119 Watson St): Monday-Friday from 3-7 p.m. Staff said all beer and food is 15 percent off the regular price.
  • Ten Penh (7900 Westpark): Monday-Friday from 4-7 p.m. A variety of beers, wines, cocktails and snacks are $5.

The Tysons Biergarten also offers a happy hour on weekdays from 3-9 p.m. but the payment system operates differently. Friday happy hours are 3-9 p.m. with a Tyson’s Lager and Eggenberg Pilsner, in addition to a 5-9 p.m. happy hour on all American draft beers, all for $5. On Monday’s, the bar features $2 Lionshead all day. On Sunday’s, it’s $5 Tyson’s Lager from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Photo via Facebook

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A series of new events are coming to BrandBox, a collection of pop-up stores grouped together in the Tysons Corner Center mall.

The eclectic array of groups are mostly being held in the Lounge, a free relaxation area that opened at the mall in March.

  • ‘Masters’ Putt-Pong TournamentApril 13 at Chubbies from 12 p.m. “until winner dominates all rounds” — The Chubbies in BrandBox will host a Putt-Pong tournament, a ski-ball like golfing game popular at tailgates. Winners of the tournament will receive a free cooler bag and $5 off any casual stretch shorts. The top three winning teams will receive gift cards. The Masters golf tournament will be shown in the lounge next to the competition.
  • Make Your Own Peep Easter Basket — April 14 at BrandBox Lounge from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. — Sugary treat-maker Peeps is hosting an Easter basket making event to be filled with treats. Reservations can be made online or at the door.
  • Rosé All Day — April 25 at Brandbox Lounge from 5-7 p.m. — A pre-Mother’s Day celebration of rosé wine will be hosted by cosmetics brand Winky Lux, Bloom Salon and Seasons 52. Entrance is $20, which includes a $20 Winky Lux gift card, a complimentary mini-makeover, rosé tasting, and hair touch-ups.
  • Urban Forest Perfume Making Workshop — May 9 at Brandbox Lounge from 5:30-7:30 p.m. — The Urban Forest Perfume Company will host a sensory workshop with guests invited to explore plant-based perfumery. The event will include a discussion of synthetic vs plant-based ingredients, perfume notes, and basic perfume formulas. Each participant will also receive a 15 ml bottle of their own fragrance. Tickets are $85 and available online.

Photo via Facebook

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Dr. Arnold Willis, a urologist in Maryland, is bringing Hello Kitty wine to Merrifield with his Napoleonic Cavalry-themed distribution service, thanks in part to Chicago gangster Al Capone.

It’s a lot to unpack. The ABC permit is still pending, but Chasseur Wine LLC is planning on opening a wholesale distribution facility at 2995 Gallows Road, as a staging ground for moving into Northern Virginia.

The brand is already active in Maryland and D.C., and Willis said Merrifield was right at the epicenter of the planned distribution network.

So where does the beloved Sanrio feline fit into all of this? Buckle in, it’s sort of a long story.

A few years ago, to celebrate their 40th anniversary, Willis said Sanrio was looking for a wine to put their label onto — the logic being that girls who had grown up with Hello Kitty were now likely of drinking age. In a tour of European vineyards in 2016, they settled on Torti Winery in Italy.

When they were looking to distribute that wine in the United States, they turned to a restauranteur in California who was an old family friend. Willis was friends with the restauranteur and was asked if he wanted to be involved in the distribution.

Willis said he had no experience of first-hand knowledge of Hello Kitty before that moment, but said it sounded like a fun thing to try out.

“We got unbelievable PR and in August,” said Willis. “I was completely caught off guard. It started as a fun thing with friends, but it’s completely exploded.”

Willis said after the initial explosion of interest, they began to take the wine distribution more seriously. Branding as Kitty Wines International, the group started moving into nation-wide distribution. The brand is currently available in 27 states.

“It surprises people as a legit wine,” Willis said. What has happened — it’s something very kitschy, it catches you off guard. Everybody buys one bottle to say ‘look what I got’ but the irony of this is: it’s quite good wine.”

But there was a catch.

“Ever since the Al Capone days, the federal government has cut it up so you can’t have wholesale distributorship to more than 15 states,” Willis said.

So the distributorship needed to be split up. Willis lived in the D.C. area, so he worked with his son on setting up their own distribution service in the area. Thus, Chasseur Wine — named for the son’s interest in the French cavalry unit from the Napoleonic War — was born. There are other wines involved, but Willis said the main feature is still the Hello Kitty wine, which typically sells in the $17 to $30 range.

Chasseur Wine currently distributes in Maryland and D.C., but is still waiting on a license in Virginia to start selling.

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had,” Willis said. “Chasseur Wines is my baby.”

Photo via Facebook

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