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The Best Bottles for Your Buck

No doubt Iron GateCasa Luca and The Red Hen have drool-worthy bottles that are worth splurging for from time to time, but they also have a significant number of bottles priced at $50 or less. Get to know these three area restaurants making interesting wine more accessible.

Iron Gate


A charming, romantic Greek and Italian inspired restaurant housed inside what was the oldest operating restaurant in DC.

Number of Bottles for $50 or Less: 80

Overview: A carefully curated, lengthy list featuring Greek, Italian, French, domestic, and local wine from Virginia.

Highlights: Greek wine from nine regions including Santorini and Etna.

Who’s in charge: Neighborhood Restaurant Group Wine Director Brent Kroll (pictured)

Brent’s Best Bet: Wine Art Estate, Malagousia, Macedonia, Greece, $40

Why: "This is an up-and-coming estate that I visited last year. They use one of my favorite Greek white varietals that almost went extinct in the '70s. I'm confident any Viognier drinker will love the value."

The Red Hen


A cozy Bloomingdale restaurant serving seasonal cuisine and fresh pasta.

Number of Bottles for $50 or Less: 25

Overview: An eclectic wine program bouncing from Italy to lesser-known appellations in places like Croatia and Hungary.

Highlights: One of the largest selections of orange wine in the city, including one priced at $50 from Slovenia.

Who’s in charge: Sommelier and partner Sebastian Zutant

Sebastian’s Best Bet: Le Roc Des Anges Carignan Blend, Roussillon, France, $45

Why: "Natural wine making, organic biodynamic farming and very old vines make this a hard to beat bottle at any price. It's got everything you want, from fruit to funk, mineral laden spine, it's just a pleasure to drink."

Casa Luca


Fabio and Maria Trabocchi’s more casual osteria serving rustic Italian cuisine.

Number of Bottles for $50 or Less: 23

Overview: A list boasting predominantly Italian wine with other representation from the Old World.

Highlights: Seven wines on tap or “vino alla spina.”

Who’s in charge: Sommelier and manager Sarah Bengtson

Sarah’s Best Bet: Fattoria Le Pupile Sangiovese, Morellino di Scansano, Bolgheri, Italia, $50

Why: "This is a Sangiovese from the Maremma area of Tuscany. The wine is full of red berries and violet with a touch of balsamic. It's a delicious alternative to Chianti."