Picture: Wall of wine and market counter at Cork.
In our continuing search for great wine shops around Washington, D.C., we flag two places that may justify a trip to 14th Street during the day. It is an irony that Cork serves food, but Cork & Fork does not. It’s probably too late to swap names.
Cork – On the first floor of Cork, the owners have smushed together a lot of neighborhood goodness. There is a casual downstairs bar to match the bar and restaurant upstairs. There is a market selling cheese, charcuterie, food to go, and wine-related wares. Finally, there is a wall of wine that is Old World in focus and mid-range in price. There may be a few bottles below $15, but nearly all are above that point and many above $20. The selection matches the classic profiles found on the bar’s wine list. The staff is knowledgeable, and might include one of the owners on any given day. You are not likely to load up here by the case (though I’m sure they’d appreciate it if you did), but you are likely to find a bottle or two for any occasion.
Cork & Fork – The selection at Cork & Fork is a bit broader, including New World options, but just as personal. The owners have a deep background in the wine trade, on both the production and sales side. The shop focuses on quality, with representation from around the world. According to the website, they focus on “small-production, high-quality, and independent wine producers.” Prices might be a dollar or two higher than places that focus on bulk sales, but you are more likely to find something good. If you are in the area, keep in mind that tastings are frequently happening in the back of the shop. (UPDATE: In the era of Covid, they have added a deal of 4 bottles for $44 on select bottles, which is a great deal when you see what they put under that umbrella. Also they have been doing online tastings that have been strangely more engaging than many in-person ones).
Both these places share a passion for wine and a connection to the neighborhood. You can support them because they help 14th Street hang onto a community feeling. You can also shop there because they do a good job and will take care of you.