New legislation means D.C. restaurants are free to hike their corkage fees above $25. So we found five eateries that will continue to serve wine you provide free of charge. We tapped Michael Warner, co-owner of Barracks Row’s newest wine shop, DCanter (545 Eighth St. SE; 202-817-3803), for these BYOB pairing suggestions.
3435 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-686-2966 (Cleveland park)
Recommendation: Castello di Meleto Chianti Classico, 2010 ($24)
Why it works: On Mondays through Wednesdays, this cavernous enoteca waives its $25 corking fee. To complement the rich, Mediterranean cuisine, Warner says, “If it grows together, it goes together. Italians produce so much wine, you can stick with a medium-bodied red from Italy and be assured it will be a good pairing.”
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-822-8783 (Farragut West)
Recommendation: Highway 12 Sonoma County Red Blend ($21)
Why it works: The only thing between you and the crops at Founding Farmers — where your first two bottles of wine are served for free, $25 after that — are the waiters. An emphasis on freshness means you’ll also find superb cuts of beef. “Because meat is high in fat, you need some acid and tannin to cut through it,” Warner says.
515 Florida Ave. NW; 202-332-4322 (Shaw-Howard U)
Recommendation: Rene Mure Gewurztraminer Signature ($22)
Why it works: “The dominant flavors in Thai food tend to be sweet and spicy,” Warner says. “The residual sugar in a Gewurztraminer will provide balance.” A lax alcohol policy means there’s no limit to the amount of beer or wine you can bring to this restaurant located in a cozy row house.
1805 18th St. NW, 202-588-1540; and 453 K St. NW, 202-289-6899
Recommendation: Graham Beck Bliss Demi Sec sparkling wine ($20)
Why it works: “For a cuisine that is centered around rice and noodles, a semi-sweet sparkling wine offsets the starchiness,” Warner says. “Look for bottles that say ‘semi seco.’ ” This family-owned restaurant with a bibimbap that will bring you to your knees pours your first bottle of wine for free and $25 thereafter.
1942 NINth St. NW; 202-232-7600 (U Street)
Recommendation: Complices de Loire Jus de Gamay ($13)
Why it works: “Ethiopian meats tend to be lean and spicy,” Warner says. “A very dry, light-bodied red provides fruitiness and acidity for balance.” Etete serves authentic injera (fermented pancakes used to scoop thick stews and lentil blends) and puts no restrictions on the number of bottles you can bring.