What to Drink
Felicia Jefferson of The Duck & The Peach On How She Creates Her Wine Pairings
What to Drink

Felicia Jefferson of The Duck & The Peach On How She Creates Her Wine Pairings

A course-by-course tasting menu walk-through with the Beverage Director of Washington, D.C.'s The Duck and The Peach
By Anna Captain
Photos: Deb Lindsey

October 2, 2023

The Duck & The Peach first splashed onto the Washington, D.C. scene in 2020. Restaurateur Hollis Wells Silverman’s vibrant eatery has since been lauded for its clean, Californian menu, cozy atmosphere and a wine program that centers on women-owned and produced wines. 

The restaurant’s ethos is distilled in its tasting menu: expertly sourced ingredients, artful, earnest courses and wines curated to match, both in taste and spirit.

Felicia Jefferson serves as Director of Beverage and Service of Silverman’s three-restaurant group, Eastern Point Collective. With 22 years in the industry under her belt, Jefferson has built The Duck & The Peach‘s wine program into one of the most innovative on the East Coast. 

She also knows that a successful pairing menu is no small feat. “There are few restaurants that I will get the wine pairing myself. You have to give a lot of thought to wine pairings. It’s a lot of energy, it’s a lot of resources. You have to have a restaurant that wants to invest in that.” 

“I try to make sure that wine pairings are a greater value than what you’re paying for. There are going to be wines that you’re not used to drinking. The reason you’re doing a pairing is because you want to have an adventure. You want to welcome something that you wouldn’t have come across on your own.”

The Duck and The Peach

Dish: Watermelon Tomato Salad: Watermelon, Sugarmelon, Cherry Tomato, Cucumber, Serrano

Wine Pairing: Partida Creus MUZ Vermouth (Non Vintage)

“It’s a watermelon salad in a shallow bowl. It has maybe an ounce and a half of gazpacho that’s made from watermelon, sugar melon, cherry tomato and cucumber that sits at the bottom of the plate. It’s a light, crunchy, refreshing summer salad. I eat it most days.

You get vermouth with the watermelon salad. It has a gazpacho feel, so, I went with Spanish-style vermouth from Partida Creus. Super fun. This play of sweet and salty with the watermelon and the gazpacho pairs well with this vermouth that’s made from indigenous varieties and wild fermentations.”

Dish: Kampachi Crudo, Coconut Vinaigrette, Thai Basil Oil, Ginger, Serrano Pepper

Cocktail Pairing: Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Riesling, Kabinett, Germany, 2021

“For the kampachi, we do a 30-minute cure with salt, sugar and lime zest. It’s topped with this fresh, crispy ginger. Then it has lime, coconut and Thai basil vinaigrette that gets poured table side. It has this fatty slickness that also coats the fish.

You have this high-acid Riesling coming from the Pfalz, a region that’s known for leaner styles of Riesling. You start to taste the fattiness of the fish, the ginger, and then you get the lime—the Riesling just refreshes every single bite.

I don’t want to say it’s my favorite pairing, but it probably is right now. In America, people think that Riesling is sweet, and although this Riesling does have a tiny bit of sweetness, it’s there to balance out this raging acid that the Pfalz is known for.”

Dish: Wagyu Steak, Cranberry Bean Tabbouleh, Heirloom Tomato

Wine Pairing: Domaine Clovallon Pinot Noir Blanc, France, 2022

“The Wagyu is a pretty special dish because of the cranberry beans. You don’t have to do a lot to make Wagyu taste good. It’s Wagyu, don’t mess it up. You have to do a lot to make vegetables taste good.

Cranberry beans are an heirloom, low-yielding bean. They have this velvety smooth texture. And we marinate it in a tabbouleh style. Then you have a bunch of parsley and a couple of our herbs in there and some tomato.

We’re using Australian Wagyu, it’s a little leaner than the Japanese style. And the bean salad is not hot. It’s summer and it’s a lighter preparation. It’s almost like a steak salad and that’s why we’re able to do Wagyu as our second course.

So, we’re in this interesting middle course, playing on both a heavier, richer dish, but also something that’s lighter. I wanted to give something that could play those two roles.

We’re doing that with White Pinot Noir. One of my favorite things. Domaine Clovallon Pinot Noir Blanc. The winemaker and her mother farm some beautiful Pinot Noir in high elevation. They press it very, very gently and make a captivating White Pinot that gives you all of the smells of Pinot Noir but then all of the feels of a white wine.”

Dish: Rotisserie Peking Duck, Scallions, Peach, Agrodolce, Fresno Peppers

Wine Pairing: Donnafugata Nero d’Avola, Italy, 2021

“For this rendition of the duck, we’re doing a kind of Italian preparation. We do an agrodolce, even though it’s Peking duck. The agrodolce is made from peaches. It has this sweet and tart duck saucy feel.

The south of Italy is great for wines that are juicy and full, but also maintain that Italian backbone of acidity. That’s why people love Spanish and Italian wine—somehow you drink the whole bottle and you’re like, “who did that?”

Donnafugata is spiced, there’s a savory quality to Italian wines. That spice background of the Nero’d Avola lends itself to the duck—I wasn’t expecting it to be that delicious. The wine is sweet and juicy, but has a background of savoriness that’s easy to continue to chug. Especially as you get towards the end of your savory courses.”

The Duck and The Peach

Dish: S’mores, Smoked Dark Chocolate Mousse, Graham Cracker, Honey Meringue

Wine Pairing: Recioto Della Valpolicella Classico, Italy, 2021

“The s’mores bar is smoked chocolate ganache in between layers of sacher cake, which is like an angel food-ish sponge cake. Our pastry chef takes brown butter graham cracker and mixes it in that, and then the whole cake is dipped into that, almost like a Klondike shell. It’s topped with a honey meringue that is torched.

So that is chocolate on chocolate on chocolate, and we’re doing Recioto della Valpolicella Classico with that. Dessert wine from the Chianti Classico region, made from Sangiovese that is both rich and unctuous, but screaming with acidity. What I love about Sangiovese is that tart cherry quality that’s concentrated. The flavor profile of that wine loves chocolate, especially dark chocolate and it goes bite-for-bite with the cake.”