This sophisticated wine bar serves up a heaping of tasty small plates, perfectly paired with a vast selection of libations. Opened in 2010 by husband-and-wife team Josh and Sybil Robinson, Twisted Vines offers small plates as dinner options and 100 plus wines from Spain, Uruguay and Australia, to name a few. If the Zagat rating isn’t enough to pique your interest, consider the tasty tidbits on the menu. I ordered the $6 Twisted Trio, which comes with roasted olives, Marcona almonds, and a sweet and zesty cranberry peanut mix.
When I asked the waiter, Eduardo, or self-dubbed “very handsome waiter,” what to pair with the trio, he responded by giving me a brief history of wine pairings. According to Eduardo, the French wanted to make more money on selling wines. So they began insisting that only certain foods be paired with certain wines.
And so the story goes, food and wine pairings were born.
While this remains debatable (Read up on the origins of food pairings here), the trio serves as the perfectly salty snack for the red wine drinker. According to Eduardo, a full to medium-bodied wine brings out the intense flavors of the food, making for a bolder taste.
“It’s like drinking beer and scotch,” he said.
Aside from the nut mix, the carnitas were delicious, and enough to satisfy any carnivore’s craving. The flour tortillas come filled with braised pork, cooling avocados, red cabbage, pico de gallo and cilantro-avocado sauce. While the pork has a zesty kick, the avocado sweetens it up, making a delicious combo. Eduardo suggested pairing it with a light to medium-bodied red wine like Perla Real Monastrell. The wine is like “an elephant on a tightrope,” well-balanced and brings out the mouth-watering flavors of the food.
If pork doesn’t whet your appetite, the fish tacos serve as a perfect alternative. Four mini flour tortillas come topped with flaky tilapia, red cabbage, pico de gallo and chipotle cream sauce. A peppery white or light-bodied red wine usually brings out the mild flavors of the fish.
With its amazing offering of small plates, Twisted Vines has the ambiance and décor for a perfect date night. Red-draped curtains greet guests at the entrance, and candles line the interior wall, creating the perfect mood lighting. On the quiet Sunday night I attended, many couples entered and opted to sit at the bar for a drink.
Ironically, the bar also hosts the monthly “Toddler Tuesdays” where moms and dads take their little ones to play during the afternoon. While children are occupied with their own play space and toys, adults can partake of the many wines and small plates. This day is best avoided for a quiet lunch out.
Overall, the prices are pretty standard for any small plates restaurant, and the quality is beyond comparison. Try visiting in the early evening on a Sunday for an intimate night out.
Where: 2803 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204
Price: Standard with small plates ranging from $6 to $14.
Small Plate Favorite: Carnitas
Eduardo’s Twisted Vines Wine Recommendations: Aside from Perla Real Monastrell, he recommends Karma de Drac for its “rich, spicy, peppery flavors.”
Tip: Don’t know what libation to pair your small plate with? Try this helpful chart from Wine Folly!