wine guy Wednesday
CultureMap Wine Guy Chris Shepherd and beloved Heights shop owner reveal spring's must-have: Brazilian bottles
Editor's note: Long before Chris Shepherd became a James Beard Award-winning chef, he developed enough of a passion for wine to work at Brennan's of Houston as a sommelier. He maintains that interest to this day. When Chris expressed interest in writing about wine-related topics for CultureMap, we said yes.
In this week's column, he visits a wine shop in the Heights with owners he knows well. Take it away, Chris.
The Heights has so many pockets with little gems. West of Shepherd on 15th Street is one of them. It’s what I call a two-fer: You get two cool places in one.
Here, you’ve got one of the city’s best bakeries with Rebecca Masson’s Fluff Bake Bar, who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing — and even worked with at Catalan. She’s got some of my favorite cookies, from the Couch Potato to housemade Oreo-style cookies, and amazing cakes like the Veruca Salt, which is basically a Houston standard.
Next door is a very small wine shop named Dodie’s, owned by Rebecca’s mom Dodie Wilson. She has a well-curated list of 110 wines with a focus on women-owned or women-made wines. This isn’t a wine bar. They offer tastings from time to time with some of the city’s best chefs like Ryan Lachaine (Riel) and Bobby Matos (State of Grace, La Lucha), but it’s a bottle shop.
I spent some time recently at the shop with Dodie and Rebecca talking wine, catching up, and talking about life.
My main takeaway? You should go as fast as you can to pick up a sparkling wine from Brazil. I haven’t seen many wines from Brazil at all, especially sparkling. This wine is made in the traditional of Champagne, unlike most of the sparkling wines in Brazil made in a Spumante method. It’s delicious, and at $32, it’s a steal.
Please buy this wine.Photo by Chris Shepherd
Chris Shepherd: Did you always want to open a wine shop?
Dodie Wilson: No, it just happened! We had an empty space, and I said, “Becky, we should sell beer there!” And here we are.
CS: I know you’ve had a large passion for wine for a long time.
DW: I drink a lot! I was never a rosé girl, never a white girl, never a Pinot girl, never a California girl. If someone gave me a bottle of California wine, I’d throw it away. Old World French was my thing. I never thought you could get a good bottle of wine for $20.
CS: And you’ve changed your opinion since you opened this?
DW: Yes! I even drink rosé now! I have the most wonderful reps in the city. They know exactly what I want—small vineyards, women produced. Just like men, not all women make great wine! I am not a proverb! I can’t sell what I don’t like. I said I’d never sell natural wine, but I broke my own rule. I have two natural wines. I would drink these.
CS: Let’s talk about the Brazilian Brut.
DW: It’s D.M., your casual Brazilian sparkling wine—60 percent Chardonnay, 40 percent Pinot Noir. I’m the only one in Houston that has it on the shelf. I only have 5 cases left!
CS: You have stickers on every bottle!
Rebecca Masson: That’s how you know where you bought it! We have customers who collect them! We have simple, understandable tasting notes, like “All you need is a date and a steak.” With help from these notes, I know enough to be dangerous.
The stickers have become collectors' items.Photo by Chris Shepherd
CS: How much have you changed the selection since you opened?
DW: If it sits on the shelf too long, I get a little antsy and buy something new. I’ve kept two-thirds of what I started with, and I add new bottles for the other third.
CS: I like seeing Hirsch on the shelf here.
RM: California and a Pinot — two things she said she’d never drink!
CS: What are you drinking right now?
DW: Champagne is a go to. I like big reds. I like huge reds. Son of a Butcher is excellent. I even like Pinot Noir.
CS: How do people find out about your tastings?
RM: Right now, Instagram (@dodiesbeerandwine). We’re working on an email newsletter.
This is a perfect party two-fer. You always need wine, and you always need pastries. Plus, you’re supporting a family and a small business. If you live in the neighborhood or just happen to be passing by, swing by and check out Dodie’s. They’re doing good things.
Contact our Wine Guy via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Shepherd won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2014. Last year, he parted ways with Underbelly Hospitality, a restaurant group that currently operates four Houston restaurants: Wild Oats, GJ Tavern, Underbelly Burger, and Georgia James. The Southern Smoke Foundation, a non-profit he co-founded with his wife Lindsey Brown, has distributed more than $10 million to hospitality workers in crisis through its Emergency Relief Fund.