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A pitcher of beer might be the more obvious pairing for Chicago-style pizza. And yes, you can get Goose Island with your deep dish or thin crust pie at Vin & Vic’s, a Friday and Saturday pizza pop-up a Capitol Lounge.
But Vin & Vic’s founder Tom Madrecki is also assembling a wine list made up of bottles that aren’t otherwise found in the city by taking advantage of D.C.’s unique alcohol import laws. By paying a small fee and filling out a form with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, he’s able to bring in bottles that aren’t available from distributors.
Part of the appeal is having something no one else has. “Every chef wants that. Every sommelier wants that,” Madrecki says. “The other thing is that I would just generally like to change the way that D.C. drinks in some cases.”
There are, of course, some logistical challenges to getting wines that don’t have distributors in D.C. One of the wines Madrecki is looking to obtain is from Utah, of all places. The owner has a sister in the D.C. area and agreed to bring Madrecki a case or two when he comes into town next week.
“He’s a very young, hip winemaker,” Madrecki says of Ruth Lewandowski Wines founder Evan Lewandowski. While Utah may not be a huge drinking state, “he’s sort of all the rage in some places in Paris and in Tokyo.”
In the case of some unique French and Georgian wines, Madrecki is working with a San Francisco-based importer. “His wines have no distribution on the East Coast for the most part,” Madrecki says. But the importer has agreed to help him get certain wines.
One of those wines is a Chenin Blanc from winemaker Thomas Boutin, who Madrecki stayed with for three days last fall in the Loire Valley in France. “He’s a very, very, very small producer with a hectare of vines in the middle of nowhere,” he says. “As far as I know, we’re one of two wine bars in the U.S. that has it.”
All of the wines are “natural” wines, which essentially means they’re made in a more hands-off, non-interventionist way. The vineyards aren’t sprayed with chemicals, and additives aren’t added to the wines. “The wines are more expressive of where they’re from and when they were made,” Madrecki says. “On the flip side, some people would be like, ‘Oh, they’re weird or they’re a little funky or this one is cloudy.'”
The wines also tend to be lower in alcohol and higher in acid, which happens to make them pair well with pizza.
By essentially eliminating a middle man, Madreccki says the prices are lower than they might otherwise be. His current list ranges from $7 to $10 for a glass and $33 to $47 for a bottle.
To make it more manageable to navigate, Madrecki has purposely limited the wine list to just five selections. Currently, three of the five wines are direct imports, but Madrecki says his goal is to eventually source almost all his wines that way.
Take a look at this weekend’s menu below. Vin & Vic’s operates from 6 p.m. to close every Friday and Saturday at Capitol Lounge.
Photo by Tom Madrecki