Susan Brink OFlagherty of Venokado wine shop is also wine director at Dominick's,… (Courtesy of Susan Brink…)
Susan Brink O'Flaherty is the wine director for both Dominick’s in WeHo and Little Dom’s in Los Feliz, and for Tom Bergin’s Tavern. She opened Venokado wine shop in West Hollywood in 2008 and a second location with a tasting room in Santa Monica in May. A former manager at A.O.C., she caught the wine bug there. "A Cruvinet and 50 different wines a day? It was really fun and opened up my mind."
You can find her at Dominick’s on Tuesdays and Little Dom’s on Thursdays when she selects wines to showcase for the evening's wine flights. That's three 3-ounce pours, a glass and a half for the price of one. Be there, or miss out on some fascinating, little-known wines.
What's your favorite wine region to visit? And do you have any secret spots there? I don’t get out much. But I’m going on a honeymoon next year (even though we got married in September). This is my life. I can’t even fit in a honeymoon! We’re going to Paris and to Italy where I’m planning on going to the Marche, my favorite wine region. Verdicchio, Pecorino, Montepulciano are some of my favorite wines of all time from that region. They’re dark and full of iron and blood and war. There's just something about them really beguiling and magical. And then, after exploring the Marche, I would like to get on the boat and go to Croatia. I love the wines there.
What's the sleeper on your list? In the Marche, there’s a wine called Lacrima di Morro d’Alba from Luigi Guisti. Lacrima is the grape varietal and I have the wine on the list at both Little Dom and Dominick’s and at the store, too. It’s for someone up for a little bit of an adventure. It’s a medium-bodied red wine in the same vein as a really floral Pinot Noir. You almost feel like you can bathe in it, it’s so layered and expressive and pretty — rose petals, violets, blueberries, raspberries. It’s very versatile with food, too.
If you could encourage every customer to buy just one bottle, what would it be? I have a village wine that anyone who tries it loves: Fattoria San Francesco "Fata Morgana," a Greco Bianco from Calabria in southern Italy. With its minerality and beautiful notes of almond and pineapple and apricot, it reminds me of a Chenin Blanc. But it gives you the sensation of sucking on apricot pit. Every time I recommend it, people come back for it. It’s just a beauty.
What’s the last wine that really blew you away? I would have to say really special one would be wine we had on our wedding 2004 vintage Marcel Moineaux Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru Champagne. I don’t know if it’s because I was marrying Jeremiah ... but it was magnificent. Tasted like salted almonds and a little biscuit, something about that Champagne, so pretty and just made me tear up a little bit.
Who else has a great list? Oh my gosh, there are so many great wine lists. I love the list at Son of a Gun. Helen Johannesen, the wine director there, does a beautiful list for fish. It has everything I personally like to drink from the Loire and Champagne. I also love to go to the bar at Lucques. Caroline Styne puts together an amazing list by the glass, with a big shout out to California.