Though the UB40 song “Red Red Wine” may be better known to an older clientele, the reference hints at the identically named wine bar’s intent. “We wanted to demystify wine drinking,” says Lisa Bolter, who co-owns the Annapolis bistro with her husband Brian, who also anchors the news on D.C.’s WTTG-TV. Indeed, a younger crowd seems drawn to the rock vibe of the place, a kind of Goth-New Orleans frippery with velveteen and damask banquettes, crystal chandeliers, and an acoustic-tile ceiling painted matte black. The wine menu is peppered with anecdotes—about lawyers-turned-winemakers and wines with hints of strawberry or Lik-a-Stix candy. “A 90-point wine might not mean anything” to this crowd, says Bolter, “but that it’s grown on land owned by Dave Matthews” does.
Bottles are arranged on the wall under cheerful wooden signs indicating “Bold,” “Bright,” “Sweet,” and “Dry,” available to drink on site with a $10 corkage fee. There’s also an extensive list of wines by the glass and a handful of wines on tap.
There are other drink choices, too. On a recent night, we had a Dogfish Head Sixty-One—the Delaware brewery’s IPA with Syrah added during the brewing process.
The food menu is straightforward. We started with the Brie toast, a platter of crusty bread with slices of cheese drizzled with a sweet glaze and a smattering of raisins from Chardonnay grapes. The burger of the day was thick, juicy, and pleasantly charred, topped with prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, and cherry tomatoes artfully arranged between the brioche bun. The entree list includes stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon and a rack of lamb. The grilled wild salmon with a chipotle glaze and cilantro salsa was more sweet than spicy.
The menu has plenty of grazing options, including individual pizzas like The Gus with pepperoni, sausage, and ham, and a pear prosciutto with honey and feta. There are sandwiches and a section of the menu called “serious salads and soups.” Desserts are mostly Smith Island cakes—including red velvet and chocolate peanut butter—with the option of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The Bolters are opening a new place, Dry 85, in October, a hangout for red-meat eaters and bourbon drinkers, a few doors from the wine bar on Main Street. They also operate a wine bar on wheels (find it at the Baltimore Book Fair in September).
›› Red Red Wine Bar, 189B Main St., Annapolis, 410-990-1144. Hours: 10 a.m.-12 a.m. Sun., 11 a.m.-12 a.m. Mon.-Wed., 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thurs.-Sat. Appetizers: $8-13; entrees: $18-26; desserts: $8-9.