There are two ways to approach wine at the Tasting Room, the third location of the wine bar chain owned and operated by John Kent Cooke's Boxwood Winery. First, grab a seat in the minimalist room -- the black and steel decor makes it look like a high-end coffee shop -- or one of the tables on the sidewalk patio.
Peruse the menu of wines and charcuterie. You can pick any of two dozen wines (most $7 to $15) or short flights (about $15) and order from one of the servers, or serve yourself. Buy a special card and load it with at least $10. Then wander around the high-tech enomatic wine dispensing machines until you see a bottle that looks interesting. Put your card in the machine, stick your glass under the spout and pick the number of ounces you want (one, three or five, at prices ranging from $2 to $5 per ounce). The 16 reds and eight whites are selected by Stéphane Derenoncourt, the famed French winemaker who serves as a consultant on Boxwood's vineyards.
The quality is one of the reasons doing it for yourself is probably the way to go. I've found service to be slow, though helpful with opinions about various wines. It's worth a visit on Wednesday or Friday evenings, when a keyboardist sets up in the corner and jams on "Autumn Leaves," "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Black Magic Woman," singing in multiple languages. Kind of quirky, and more laid-back than the nearby Capital Grille if you need a post-shopping pick-me-up.
Because this is a wine shop, all full bottles are for sale to go at $10 off the menu price.
-- Fritz Hahn (Friday, Oct. 8, 2010)