Di Vino: The Sommelier of San Juan
Pina coladas are what I came for. But the sommelier of San Juan had something else in mind.
Tucked away in a discreet corner of the Verdanza Hotel, the Di Vino looks like a typical, upscale hotel bar.
The difference is not the décor, but who is behind the bar. Meet Sommelier Dario Iovannone.
It was our first night in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Verdanza Hotel. My girlfriend and I popped into Di Vino with intentions of celebrating our Puerto Rican adventures like true tourists with a pina colada toast.
Armed with charm like only the Italians can dole out, Dario introduces himself and asks what we would like to taste tonight.
I say, “Pina Colada muy fuerte!”
Without any hesitation (or condemnation), he replies with gusto, “Why would you have a pina colada when you could taste Italian passion in a glass?”
With that, visions of frothy drinks happily vanished. Before we knew it, we were doing a full-blown wine tasting. His enthusiasm for Italian, Chilean, Argentina and California wines made it near impossible to say no. And the Di Vino wine flight tasting menu is impressive. Your taste buds can stroll through sparkling wines, sweeter white wines like Riesling, and flights by region or country.
Dario was born in Positano, Italy, but has lived in San Juan for nine years. As a certified Italian sommelier, he’s carving out a niche with his newly opened Di Vino Wine & Tapas in the country of Medalla Light beer & rum drinkers.
Within minutes of meeting Dario, you’re a part of the family (who also happens to have excellent taste in wine). Locals and visitors alike seem to lap up his hospitality and humor as much as the wine. Every Thursday at 7 pm, Dario offers a new wine tasting experience focusing on a different region, winery, or varietal.
“There is not one other wine bar in San Juan like Di Vino and my customers know they can come here to see what’s new and find something different that they didn’t know they would like,” he explains.
Like the U.S., Puerto Rico’s thirst for wine has surged over the last decade, although they do not produce any wine. Most mid to high end restaurants have a decent selection of South American, European and California wines.
Puerto Rico’s pina coladas are a mandatory right of passage but when you need a respite from rum, head to Di Vino Wine & Tapas bar in the Verdanza Hotel. I guarantee Dario will take care of you, confirming that you made the right decision to forgo the tropical drinks for a night of wine tastings, laughs and Italian hospitality.
Di Vino Wine & Tapas, Verdanza Hotel, 8020 Tartak street, Carolina, Puerto Rico
**In other Wanderlust & Lipstick beverage-travel news, check out WanderBoomer’s Shave Ice review, it’ll make you crave one of those rainbow colored delights.