This month we are thrilled to partner with the team at Outerlands, a restaurant in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood, to celebrate the launch of our new Open Kitchen collection. Outerlands is known for its menu of seasonal food and rustic dishes and the strong sense of community created by the space — it’s no surprise the restaurant has become a legend among locals. Read our interviews with the owners, chefs and experts behind Outerlands and try their original recipes here.
As Outerlands’ wine director, Dagan Ministero builds the restaurant’s wine list, focusing on old-world style wines that complement the rustic, seasonal dishes created by Chef Brett Cooper. Here, we ask Dagan all about what led him to Outerlands, plus his favorite wines to share with friends.
Tell us about your background and how you started working with Outerlands.
As for my background in wine, I started at [former San Francisco wine bar] EOS, then became a sommelier. I worked at LuLu and then at Foreign Cinema, and eventually I followed the chef there over to Chez Spencer.
With Terroir, I started the first natural wine bar in San Francisco, focusing on organic, bio dynamic methods as well as American producers that were dry farmed and following the same style of production — in other words, very old-world style wines. At that point, Brett Cooper and I became good friends, which led us to eventually work together some seven years later at Outerlands. Essentially, I was a regular. I always brought in “great grape juice” to share with Dave and Brett until, one day, Dave asked me to take on developing a list for them.
How would you describe the food and atmosphere at Outerlands? What do you love about it?
The food, I would say, is honestly and purely Californian, with impeccable local sourcing and a true focus on seasonal items and sustainable production. Beyond that, you add Chef Cooper’s amazing technique and flavor profiles that ride the edge of French and Japanese without being at all called fusion — pretty much the way I like to eat. And we always have some really well sourced local seafood, which is usually my favorite thing.
What are some of your favorite wines for oysters and lamb shanks?
Oysters has to be 2012 Domaine De La Pepiere Muscadet. For lamb: 2007 Cantina Giardino Drogone Aglianico from Campania.
What are your tips for choosing a bottle of wine?
Never buy a bottle because the label is pretty. Ask for some help in a wine shop; tell them what you enjoy and give them a frame of reference, perhaps the wine you liked recently. This day and age everyone has a camera on their phone, so if you like something, take a shot of it to help you find it again later .
What are your tips for serving wine at home? What kind of glasses do you like, etc.?
When it comes to glassware, it all depends on whether or not you have kids and how well you can put your nice stuff away. To avoid glasses being broken, don’t bring them out when your clumsy friends are over, but a good glass definitely makes a difference in how the wine presents.
Any go-to dinner party dishes?
Right now, I’ve been fishing for Dungeness crab a lot. Nobody’s bummed when you show up with a couple of those. I actually share a crab pot with Dave from Outerlands. Get what’s in season.
What makes a great dinner party?
Good wine, of course. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either — the Muscadets usually retail around $15 to $16 a bottle. Also, a positive, energetic host, and a nice coursing of little bites to come out as the day goes on.
I like to bring the wine out with the course I’m serving. You can always suggest each wine to your guests and give them the option, but it’s nice if you can lead them to the dishes you intend to serve the wine with.
Who are your favorite people to have around your table?
My beautiful wife and two kids; Chef Cooper and his wife, of course; my partner at Terroir and his family; and any randoms surfers, chargers, photographers or friends who happen to be out by our house at the edge of the world.
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