Update: See my new review of Domaine Hudson with food porn!
You know nothing about wine, so you blindly choose one from the restaurant menu. You're never impressed with the wine you order. You write off liking wine. You're not the problem! It's the poorly thought out wine list at most restaurants. What you need is someone that offers good wine, and is happy to help you discover what you like. What you need is Domaine Hudson.
Domaine Hudson is a quaint little wine bar that opened late last year in downtown Wilmington. The best part about Domaine is that it's a couple of blocks from my house, so I can liberally enjoy myself and walk home responsibly. This is a major selling point. I initially rented an apartment in downtown Wilmington thinking that I would be in walking distance of places of interest - restaurants, bars, parks. I quickly found out that downtown is DEAD after the bankers go home; many restaurants are only open to serve the lunch crowd. So, I was excited when I noticed their sign on Washington St. For you, the wine will be their selling point.
The first time I visited, I went alone and sat at the bar. I went around 6 and was one of three people there, but the evening crowd quickly filled the cozy bar and dining area. The bartender handed me a two-page, paper wine menu which breaks the wines into categories - white, red, champaigne, and dessert. You can order a 1.5, 3, or 5 ounce glass of wine. This system allows you to try out a new wine to see if you like it, or sample flights of wine without committing yourself to a full glass. A 1.5 ounce glass of red or white wine costs $2.25 to $4.50. A 3 ounce glass costs $4.50 to $9.00. A 5 ounce glass costs $7.50 to $15.00. These prices seem reasonable, but, before you know it, you can sample yourself into a hefty wine tab. If you're feeling confident in your choice of wine, you can order the bottle, but this is a less fun approach. I recommend enjoying an evening of sampling wines and discovering a new favorite. It's fun.
Domaine Hudson also offers a food menu of appetizers, small plates and larger plates that change seasonally. Their vegetarian options are limited, but I'm accustomed to this. I can eat two of the salads, one of the appetizers, the cheese plate, and the desserts. No problem - wine, cheese, and dessert are a dream come true. The chef kindly made me my own dish of roasted vegetables and potatoes served with a curry sauce, which was tasty. I would never make such a special request, but the befriended man next to me at the bar decided to speak for me - men can be such asses. Sorry and thank you, chef!
On another occasion I sampled one of the cheese plates. You can order one variety of cheese from a list of about five different cheeses. The large hunk of cheese is served with bread, crackers, and fruit. That night the cheese plate was accompanied by figs and slices of red delicious apples - the worst apple around, as far as taste and texture. I did not hesitate to comment about this faux pas on the comment card. I also commented on the lack of warm desserts offered - three of the four desserts listed were ice cream or sorbet and it was December. On my next visit, I noticed that three of the four desserts were warm desserts. Perhaps they listened to me. I haven't had another cheese plate, but hopefully they acted on that suggestion, too.
If you're inexperienced or afraid of wine, don't let this stop you from trying Domaine Hudson. The servers will suggest wines to sample or pair with your food. The owner will probably engage you in conversation and make wine suggestions. He's not hard to miss; he's the blonde man in a sports jacket that looks horribly nervous about his new business venture (he used to be an accountant). His wife, on the other hand, looks like she's got a grip on everything. I'm betting it was she who brilliantly located the wine bar next to my apartment.
1314 N. Washington St., Wilmington, DE 19801
Fri-Sat., 5 - 11p.m.