One of DC’s most exciting restaurant wine programs is going retail. Sommelier Bill Jensen and the team behind Tail Up Goat have partially transformed their new Reveler’s Hour in Adams Morgan from a pasta joint into a daytime shop. It opens today with bottles of wine and grab-and-go sandwiches from chef Jon Sybert.
Jensen built a following at those two restaurants for his whimsical approach to the wine world—think seasonal lists with themes like “the Roman Wine Route” and a booklet of vintage baseball cards reworked to showcase winemakers. Even if you don’t know a pinot gris from a pet nat, Jensen is the kind of enthusiastic somm who’ll pour a few tastes and have you walking away with a newfound affinity for say, Provencal reds.
Jensen says part of the appeal will be the focus on small, under-the-radar winemakers. “We really want to bring that restaurant service to retail,” he says. “Retail outlets tend to be less progressive in terms of thing they’re willing to carry.”
To start, the wine shop will feature seasonal vintages in four main themes in collaboration with female British wine critic Jancis Robinson. “I’m indulging more flights of fancy,” Jensen says. For summer, the categories include sherry; bottles from “the Island of Pelops” (a.k.a. the Greek Peloponnese); wines from “NxNW Portugal”; and offbeat, value-driven finds from Bordeaux. Jensen, who describes himself as “non-committal” when it comes to wine, will also have a smattering of natural wines and bottles that range “from the familiar to the wild and esoteric.”
What if you just want something easy for your home happy hour?
“If you just want something slammable and refreshing, we’ll have that covered, too, with all sorts of dry Riesling and pink wine for days,” Jensen says.
The wine shop takes over what was the front bar space at Reveler’s Hour, which is currently open for a three-course $45 prix-fixe dinner at reduced capacity.* Former Dabney pastry chef Annie Coleman is behind fresh breads for sandwiches like a simple, summery BLT or a melty meatball. The team plans to possibly add more baked goods, breads, and, grab-and-go items as time goes on. But first, Tail Up Goat will open for patio service around the corner next week.
The Wine Shop at Reveler’s Hour. 1775 Columbia Rd., NW
*This post has been updated.