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In just shy of two years in business, Dio Wine Bar has created a generous number of natural wine fans, according to founder Stacey Khoury-Diaz. Her 30-seat H Street NE business strictly pours wines made from organic or biodynamically farmed grapes that see very little added or removed throughout the production process. Some describe natural wine as a no- or low-intervention drink because winemakers eschew introducing sulfites, lab-grown yeast, or sugar.
“I remember there were people in the industry that told me it was a crazy idea when I was throwing the concept around, and now there’s no question that this is something that works,” she says. “There are a lot of folks that deserve credit for the changing scene, but I credit myself as one of them.” Brent Kroll of Maxwell Park, Sebastian Zutant of Primrose, and Bill Jensen of Tail Up Goat are other enthusiasts.
But walk into Dio, and no one is going to hit you over the head with science on a Friday night. Khoury-Diaz has encouraged people to try and drink more natural wine simply by filling her little bar with big fun. Here are the best times to visit, depending on what kind of wine drinker you are and what makes you tick:
If you enjoy wine, but hardly ever have the occasion or tolerance to order a whole bottle, visit every Thursday for “Juicebox Juke Box.”
With only about 13 options by the glass, there’s a limit to how much exploring you can do at Dio, where some of the real treasures are only available by the bottle. On Thursdays that changes because customers can peruse the wine list and “sign up” for the bottle they’d like to see popped open and served by the glass. Nothing is off limits, but only four bottles can be open at a time and there can’t be any repeats. As each bottle sells out, the bar opens the next one on the list, much like a song queue on a juke box. Bartenders determine the by-the-glass price, sometimes on the fly. “It’s a great way to train-up staff, because week by week we’re tasting a bunch of wines,” says Khoury-Diaz. “It’s so much fun and keeps things interesting.”
If you have a child in tow but still want to swirl and sip, visit one Saturday every month for “Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner.”
Dio offers a two-hour window one Saturday per month for parents or guardians to come drink wine with their kids present. The next one is scheduled for Sept. 28 from 3-5 p.m. Khoury-Diaz, who had a baby the first year Dio was open, launched the series back in May. “This time is for you, come in and don’t worry about bothering other people,” she says. “If your baby is crying, you don’t have to walk outside. Everyone else’s baby is crying, too.” She especially gets a kick out of the dads who come in with babies strapped to their bodies. “Parents really appreciate it. It’s unreal the amount of gratitude they express to us.”
If you lean into supporting D.C.’s women-owned businesses, visit the third Wednesday of every month for “Women Wine Wednesdays.”
On these special Wednesdays celebrating sisterhood, Dio only pours wines by the glass from woman-owned wineries or women winemakers; showcases cocktails made with spirits from woman-owned distilleries; taps female chefs to serve food; and turns up the volume on an all-female playlist. Khoury-Diaz also brings in other women from the D.C. community such as artists or speakers. The next Women Wine Wednesday is set for Aug. 21 and will feature a vegan menu from a female chef; a jewelry and crystal sale from Cosmo Castle; and a visit from Behold.Her founder Leah Beilhart.
If hip-hop is your soundtrack to life, visit on Aug. 25.
Walk into Dio and direct your eyes downward, and you’ll see the words “lobster and shrimp” inscribed on the floor. It seems out of place since Dio is not a seafood restaurant, but Khoury-Diaz loves hip-hop and picked up on some 2009 Drake lyrics that describe the rapper’s favorite food pairings with moscato wine. Khoury-Diaz is fascinated by the economic impact musicians can have on the wine industry and will teach a class on it on Aug. 25 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Tickets are $40.
If you’re a fan of Latin culture, food, and drink, visit on Sept. 15.
Khoury-Diaz, who is Mexican-American, is combining her wine bar’s second birthday with Mexican Independence Day. (El Grito is technically Sept. 16, but Dio is closed on Mondays.) Throughout the year Dio hosts several events which highlight and welcome D.C.’s Latinx community. This one stretches from 3-10 p.m. and attendees will be able to purchase Mexican and Mexican-American wines by the glass, food from Manos de Maiz such as pork posole, and cocktails made with mezcal and tequila. Registration is free.