Love it or hate it, Bravo TV’s Real Housewives franchise created a notorious sorority of reality stars. One of them just happens to be not a lip-glossed human but a variety of wine. Light, quaffable Pinot Grigio is in practically every episode, regardless of the locale, appearing as an attractive, desirable, and fun component of the upscale lifestyle. It often plays a vital role in moments of tears, laughter, and hair-pulling among the women, most of whom are also mothers. The programs are amusing, and likely not scripted to be taken seriously, but viewed as a whole they give the impression that affluent, educated, and successful American women have not blood but Pinot Grigio running in their veins.
Christianne Ricchi, owner of the Italian restaurant i Ricchi in downtown DC, says she notices the trend every day. More women are drinking wine, they drink more white than red, and the white they order is Pinot Grigio.
“We see women drinking it all the time, lunch and dinner, and in place of cocktails,” she says. Ricchi has theories as to why. “It’s light, it’s easy, it has a cleaner finish. It’s a more educated choice over a pedestrian Chardonnay.” Melissa Devore, the vice president of domestic wine buying for Potomac–based Total Wine, sees the same tendency. “The whole reason for the Pinot Grigio trend is its approachability,” she says. It’s more food-friendly, more easy-drinking, and, “anecdotally, it is a female consumer who is buying the Pinot Grigio.” The number of women buying wine is on the rise generally, Devore says. “Our suppliers have caught on to the trend, changed their marketing tactics, and created labels directed at them.”
Moms are an obvious target, says author Ann Dowsett Johnston, who penned a book based on her personal story and research. “Women come home, chop the vegetables, oversee the homework—and they pour a glass of wine while cooking, then another glass with dinner, and then, if they have trouble sleeping, another one,” she said in an interview. “We have drinking play dates, drinking book clubs, and drinking girls’ weekends away.” The drink of choice is Pinot Grigio. This is not to say we only go the Pinot route, or that we im-bibe irresponsibly or excessively—but if the shoe fits, we want to be savvy in how we wear it.
Where to Go For a Glass
Few things are more annoying than heading out for a wine-and-chat night with the girls and ending up at a noisy bar, or one filled with a crowd that’s too young, too rambunctious, too hip (in a bad way), or too, just, wrong. We’ve done the legwork on the best spots to enjoy a good glass of Pinot Grigio in a setting suited to you and your crew.
Eno Wine Room
New to the scene, this earthy yet modern space is adjacent to the Four Seasons, and much less noisy and “sceney” than the hotel’s Bourbon Steak. Grab a table by the window for some Georgetown people-watching while sipping a glass of 2012 Milbrandt Pinot Gris from Columbia Valley, which is served from a tap.
2810 Pennsylvania Ave., NW ; 202-295-2826 .
Dickson Wine Bar
The lighting and sparse design of this U Street spot lend themselves to the vibe, which is decidedly sexy and cool, perfect for a night in the city. Try an $8 glass of Tiamo Organic 2012 from Venezia Pinot Grigio.
903 U St., NW; 202-332-1779 .
Sure, the tattooed bartenders make for good eye candy, but it’s the oasis of chic in suburbia that makes Range a sort of Cheers for the in-the-know mom set. Sip a glass of 2012 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio from Vigneti Delle Dolomiti, Italy.
5335 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-803-8020 .
Flight Wine Bar
Husband-and-wife team Swati Bose and Kabir Amir left New York City to return to DC and open this stylish Penn Quarter wine haven featuring more complex Pinot Grigio options. We love the Villa Wolf Pinot Gris 2012, with its peach and apricot notes.
777 Sixth St., NW ; 202-864-6445 .
Screwtop Wine Bar
Enjoy a glass from this casual wine-and-cheese bar’s ever-changing list of offerings, such as a perfectly sweet Margerum Ranch Vineyard Pinot Gris from Santa Barbara. Find yourself becoming a regular? Join the wine club for freebies, discounts, and members-only events.
1025 Fillmore St., Arlington ; 703-888-0845.