A new wine bar, Dio Wine Bar, will open up August 2017 at 904 H Street NE. Although the concept of a wine bar is not new to H Street, the concept is unique in town. When it opens, it will be the first natural wine bar in town, although WCP reported in their original story about Dio that there are already plans for another natural wine bar to open this year. (New trend alert? We have it.)
Dio will be bringing natural wines to the 900 block of H Street NE, north side. This block is currently anchored by clothing store DTLR,by the Boost Mobile at the corner of 10th and H and by H Street Wine, a full liquor store that also provides tastings on evenings and weekends. Across the street, the future is still a widening hole where the defunct H Street Connection stood for many years. That block is under development and will become (what else?) condos within the year.
Back to the wine. When I asked Dio Wine Bar’s owner, Stacey Khoury-Diaz, what needs to be in place for a wine to be called natural, she smiled and took the time to explain new terminology to me. If you’re a casual wine imbiber, you may be familiar with things such as nose, body, vintage and alcohol content in your wine. If you’re not familiar with any of them, that is okay as well– after all, the best part about wine is just to enjoy it. However, if you have more than a passing curiosity about what goes into your bottle, from farm to store, Khoury-Diaz’s shop will provide you with many wonderful answers. Khoury-Diaz, who ended up in DC thanks to her work in international relations, became fascinated by food security and the access to nutritious food. This fascination led to a Master’s degree in food systems from NYU, which then led back to her roots, literally. As a native of Sonoma county, California, Khoury-Diaz had always been into wine. The full-circle epiphany has become Dio: a place to learn not just about wines, but about what goes into wine, and how these additions change and form the flavors in all our favorites. It’ll be a cozy space, allowing up to 24 wine enthusiasts to drink and learn.
So, what’s natural wine? Although there is no legal definition of what constitutes natural wine, there are steps in the journey from grapes to table where farmers and winemakers can make conscious choices that end up in a “natural” wine. The choice for farmers includes pledging not to use pesticides. For the cellars, making a natural wine means not adding substances such as tannins or color enhancers to the final product. I was surprised to find out that, in order to keep consistency, many winemakers add tannins to certain reds (such as cabernet sauvignon) in order to make the consumer’s experience of the wine consistent. NPR recently put together a great piece about natural wine that you can read here, but I honestly cannot wait to formally welcome Stacey and Dio into our neighborhood, and learn more about wine myself –while taste-tasting for research purposes, naturally.
You can keep up with the progress at their site, https://diowinebar.com, or follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/diowinebar/. Here, you can also find upcoming events to preview the wine bar’s offerings.