Allie Poindexter was living in New York when she met future business partner, Chef Julia Sullivan, at Haven’s Kitchen. Together, the two launched a plan to open a restaurant, which had them relocating to Nashville to open, in 2017, Henrietta Red. Since, the duo has been racking up accolades, including being named to Southern Living’s list of 30 Women Moving Southern Food Forward. Today, Poindexter’s wine program at the Nashville restaurant is carefully curated to provide perfect pairings with oysters and seafood, while also working hard to turn guests on to something new—like pinot blanc from Pfalz.
You sold more white wine than red, which we don’t see very often. Do you think the food influences that?
Our wine list covers everything. Our chef has influences from all over the place. The food is primarily vegetable and seafood-driven so in that sense, that is what more drives the wine list than a region or anything else.
We just have more white wine on our list than reds. The seafood heaviness of the menu definitely gets people to order more white than red. It is weird especially for Nashville where people enjoy their red wine. We do a lot of happy hours with white wine, too, and I think that has something to do with it.
Your biggest success is pretty unique, a Pfalz pinot blanc.
I’ve had chardonnay maybe once on our by the glass list. We don’t have the larger mouth-feel whites very often that people are more familiar with. That pinot blanc is a go-to when people want a fuller-bodied chardonnay. We recommend it a lot to people who want something with a bit more oomph. That pinot blanc isn’t super bold, but it’s the boldest white we have on the list and I think people gravitate toward that. It’s delicious and people are pleasantly surprised.
That’s what I love so much about our list: when people say, “Hey, I want a Napa chard,” we get to say, “hey, this is what we have, you should try this instead.” Luckily, our guests are receptive to trying new things. Our food may not be super boundary-pushing, but there are flavor profiles that people haven’t necessarily tried before. Our restaurant is also more of a special occasion spot so when people come in, they’re there for the experience and they’re willing to go with what we recommend for them.
Can you tell me about the Fattoria San Lorenzo Verdicchio?
That wine is fantastic. I try to do wines that pair nicely with mostly the oysters and the seafood dishes. Verdicchio and the Muscadet [Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet] that’s in our top wines are just two classic pairings with oysters. The verdicchio—until they changed the vintage—I’ve had since we opened. They’re super great oyster pairings. It has nice acidity, citrus notes. It has a nice saltiness to it, which I think goes well with oysters. We’ve always had a Muscadet and a verdicchio on our by the glass list. I think when you tell people, hey, this is a classic and traditional pairing, they believe you. It’s a good way to go about selling the wines. The pairing speaks for itself.
You have a jurancon and Barolo Chinato on your list of top dessert wines. How do you sell those?
One of my business partners when we first opened was adamant we would never sell dessert wine. I think from the beginning, I just wanted to prove them wrong. We sell a lot of it. The Chinato [Cappellano Barolo Chinato] we’ve had on since the beginning and our staff has been there since the beginning as well. They’re familiar with it and are excited to sell it. We’ve thought about doing different wines paired with different dishes, but we put it on our servers to make those connections and, based off of what people are saying, this is exactly what they are interested in drinking.