Here is a summary of some of the top spots in our area to taste a variety of varietals. Prices are approximate.
Wine from a vending machine? At Evo Bistro in McLean, restaurant patrons can purchase a debit card and use it to help themselves from a list of over 50 wines from around the world. Guests insert their card, select a wine, and receive a one ounce, three ounce, or five ounce pour. Swipe, dispense and sip.
EatBar in Arlington has one of the most eclectic wine-by-the-glass programs in the area. With over 50 wines available in 3, 6 and 10 ounce pours ($4 - $25) from over ten countries, the list will keep any palate busy for many visits.
Grapeseed in Bethesda was one of the first restaurants to bravely go where no restaurant had gone before - offering high-end wines by the glass in Montgomery County, where the liquor laws are a bit quirky. But chef/owner Jeff Heineman persevered and now offers over 25 whites and 25 red and a variety of sparkling and dessert wines (over 80 total), either by the glass or sample pour ($5 - $20).
The Wine Harvest, with two locations in Montgomery County (The Kentlands in Gaithersburg and Park Potomac in Potomac) is a specialty wine shop that offers sandwiches and light snacks along with samples of wines by the glass ($4 - $9), so you can "try before you buy."
Florida-based Seasons 52 restaurant's newest outpost recently landed in the Rockville area and offers guests up to 60 different wines by the glass (6-ounce pour ranging from $6 - $15). Best of all, the wines are personally selected by Master Sommelier George Miliotes, so there are a lot of interesting and diverse wines to chose from.
Mark Culler has been collecting wine for over 25 years, so when he launched Proof, wine was a major focus. He purchased a state-of-the-art wine dispensing/storage system that serves 16 white wines and 16 red wines. The temperature controlled Enomatic system uses Argon gas to keep the bottles fresh for up to three weeks, but they rarely last more than a day or two. In addition to the 2, 6 or 8.5 ounce pours of reds and whites (ranging from $7 to $22 per glass), there are also 8 sparkling wines and 8 dessert wines available.
If you're looking to see the world through wine, then take the tour at Cork Wine Bar, near Logan Circle. Cork offers over 50 wines by the glass from big and small producers from around the world and prides itself on making wine tasting approachable by providing easy-to-understand descriptions for each wine. In addition, they offer flights of wine so you can sample different regions and varietals. No passport necessary.