Dominique Henderson is the wine director at Rich Table, a small restaurant in San Francisco that serves inventive yet friendly fare, like dried porcini donuts and sardine-threaded potato chips. Henderson, who previously worked at Quince and A16, took a small two-page list and has expanded it into 22 pages that mirror the food, balancing classic Sonoma comfort wines with funky pours from far-flung locales. Jenn Pries asked her about what’s selling these days.
Your top ten bottles include three zinfandels; why do you think that is?
I think a lot of people think zin is very one-note—like most zins are the same. It’s a very comfortable grape for people, and I think, as opposed to cabernet or pinot, it’s more well-priced and in that sweet spot of $48 to $60, whereas cab and pinot prices keep rising.
Chef’s food is a blend of really rich and savory, and then you also add a fruit component and then some intense acid. They always do a shaving of citrus or something on top. So having that really juicy, jammy fruit pairs really well. We’re actually bottling a zinfandel for the restaurant on the 2nd of February. We’re doing a carbonic zinfandel that we’ll be selling at Rich Table. Kivelstadt Cellars in Sonoma is helping us. I just tried a barrel sample of it a few days ago and it’s super-awesome! So in the spring we’re going to have that by the glass.
You list the 2015 La Lunotte Les P’tites Vignes Gamay from Touraine as the biggest new success. Why is that wine doing so well?
I have no idea. It’s really funny because, first of all, we’re pouring it out of magnums, and second of all, it’s a really kind of a funky, crazy wine. It’s unfiltered, it’s zero sulfur, native yeast, natural fermentation, so it’s definitely on the off-kilter side for the wines by the glass that we pour. But our staff is 100 percent behind it and really loves it. It’s a great food wine for pairings, from appetizers to steak—a really versatile wine
What wine trends have surprised you lately?
Orange wine has become more mainstream. What’s the most surprising to me is that you used to see people in the 20s-to-30s age range drinking it, and now you see people in their 50s or 60s, people who are my parents’ age asking about orange wine. My parents are now hooked on it too; it’s kind of funny!
What’s one of the more edgy wines you’ve had success with lately?
We are doing a Mexican wine from Tecate. It’s a muscat from Tecate, Mexico. It’s the first organic vineyard in that region of Mexico. So it’s unfiltered, kept on the skins for 30 days, super aromatic and really salty. It tastes like the perfect fish taco. We’re doing that with a swordfish picatta, so it has caper and lemons, with Asian pear and sweet potato, which is one of my standout pairings right now.