Gianpaolo Paterlini of SF’s Acquerello and 1760 on Prosecco vs. Champagne and Pinot Alternatives - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Gianpaolo Paterlini of SF’s Acquerello and 1760 on Prosecco vs. Champagne and Pinot Alternatives

Since 2007, Gianpaolo Paterlini has run the wine program at his father’s Acquerello restaurant, working to build a deep, Piedmont-rich list. Two years ago he opened 1760, a new family project with more casual food and a wide-ranging wine program, offering discounts on grower Champagne—his main obsession outside of nebbiolo—every Monday.

Acquerello: Prosecco vs. Champagne

Some people think of us as an Italian restaurant, and some people think of us more as just a restaurant. If they think of us as an Italian restaurant, they want Prosecco, they want Italian. They want the classics. With Champagne, we have over 160 selections now. I’m totally obsessed with Champagne. It’s good with food, and it’s good without food. You can drink it through the entire meal. We have a strong representation of growers on the list at Acquerello. As a percentage of sales, Champagne is extraordinarily high for an almost all-Italian list.

The bottle that did especially well [Laherte Frères Ultratradition] was the only one we were suggesting for private dining. I really love their high-end wines, but I like that wine quite a bit, too, and it was a crazy deal—the price was just too good. For private dining, people just want something that fits their budget and that their guests will like, so you don’t have to be as ambitions—just wines that are tasty, delicious and crowd-pleasing. That hit all those marks.

Acquerello: Kistler vs. Edi Kante chardonnay

Kante we had by the glass and it was a huge success. It is aged in oak, but it also has minerality and acidity and is very food friendly. It just caught that balance between what people want in chardonnay and what we think will work well with food.

Kistler: We honestly can’t keep that in stock. We sell at least a bottle of Kistler chardonnay every night. We keep five or six bottlings on the list. If I did a list of the top ten best-selling chardonnays, five would be Kistler. And the wines have gotten better. They used to be a little top-heavy and buttery, but I feel they’re single vineyard wines especially are much more focused than they used to be. Even Kistler has been affected by the pendulum swing in California.

1760: Pinotmania

If we put a pinot on by the glass for under $18, it will fly. If we have a pinot on the list for $50 to $60, it will fly. What’s most interesting is when we don’t have a pinot noir by the glass. Right now we have a Beaujolais and a barbera by the glass, and people are just as happy with those.

Beaujolais, people are not ordering it, it’s something we need to sell. But the price is so reasonable that it’s easy to get people to try it. Even the best Beaujolais is between $50 and $70, so it’s easy to get California pinot drinkers to try something different, it’s just trying to figure out who is open to that idea.

1760’s Hometown favorites

By far California wines lead sales [at 1760]. People ask for zin all the time, and we carry only two—Bedrock and Storybook. Storybook [the 2012 Storybook Mayacamas Range, one of his Top 10] is on there for under $50. I always try to tell [guests] it’s a little leaner, drier, more structured than they’re used to, less sweet, maybe, than a typical California zin. But I’ve never had any problems with it. People like it.

Longtime senior editor at Wine & Spirits magazine, Luke now works for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program.