Federal Hill's newest wine bar, Sip Kitchen & Wine Bar, quietly settled in to the first floor of the Ritz Carlton Residences toward the end of 2014. Originally out of Georgia, the spot sports 72 bottles of wine from self-pour machines in its cozy lounge.
On a recent weeknight, we popped into the wine bar which, even well after happy hour, had an entirely full lounge. The restaurant is fairly expansive, with about 250-300 seats, and is decorated with soaring ceilings, copper tables, and repurposed dark wood furniture alongside weathered leather couches.
Brightly lit silver self-pour machines line the walls of the lounge, with reds and whites split up into categories: Reds are big, spicy, or mellow, while whites are fruity, crisp, or buttery. Each wine is labeled underneath with the vineyard name, wine type, and geographical location of the vineyard, along with a brief, but useful, description of each wine.
Above the bottles on the machines are small screens that display the pricing per pour for each wine—either 1, 3, or 6 ounces. Prices start as low as 90 cents for 1-ounce pours for varietals such as Castano Monastrell, Guenoc Petit Sirah, and Seven Sisters Pinotage. If you’re looking for the most upscale pour in the house, the Peo Cesare Nebbiolo (a “big” red) tops out at $6.50 for 1 ounce, $19.50 for 3 ounces, and $39 for 6 ounces.
We sipped from bottles of both reds and whites, and there wasn’t a glass that we were disappointed to have tasted—and at 90 cents, we probably wouldn’t have cared. Our favorite of the whites was the Urban Uco, a bright Torrontés from Mendoza, Argentina ($1/$3/$6). Fans of spicy reds, we adored both an old favorite, Cline Cashmere GSM ($1.50/$4.50/$9), a smooth blend of garnacha, syrah, and mouvédre from Sonoma, California, and a new-to-us sample of Rosso di Montalcino ($2.35/$7/$14), made from Sangiovese grapes, by Il Poggione in Tuscany.
With plenty of those 72 bottles left to sample, we’ll definitely be heading back. Plus, a recently installed whiskey self-pour machine is calling our names.