Sally Kim of SF’s Delfina Restaurant Group on Prosecco, Lambrusco and Italian Values - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Sally Kim of SF’s Delfina Restaurant Group on Prosecco, Lambrusco and Italian Values

While majoring in French literature at UC-Irvine, Sally Kim interned at The Underground Wine Journal. She later spent some time working at Domaine Carneros, at several San Francisco restaurants, in wine sales, and with the Terroni restaurant group in Los Angeles. She started at the Delfina Restaurant Group in middle of 2014, and is now in charge of the Italian-focused wine lists at Delfina and Locanda as well as the four Delfina Pizzerias in the Bay Area.

On the house Prosecco, her top-selling wine

Our house Prosecco is Sorrelle Bronca [the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore Particella 68]. We did a sparking seminar for my staff, and they liked it and it really gained momentum. It’s actually the Prosecco we used when we first opened 17 years ago. [Owner] Craig [Stoll] has an affinity for the brand and I do as well, so we just keep it on. We’re doing a wine dinner with one of the Bronca sisters later this month.

Jura chardonnay at an Italian restaurant

There is interest in the Jura lately, which has been more industry-driven, and it’s been written up in various publications. But everyone else follows. I always list a chardonnay at Locanda, whether it’s Jura or Chablis—but I don’t list any domestic wines there. [The Domaine de la Borde Terre du Lias] was the only chardonnay I had on by the glass. People gravitate toward what they’re familiar and comfortable with.

On getting guests to drink pigato and falaghina

The only Italian whites [guests] still ask for are pinot grigios. What I do with my by-the-glass list is all esoteric—so I’m almost forcing them. I offer some that are a little more obscure, and some that are just really easy to drink. I spend fifty percent of my time on education with staff, so our staff is really knowledgeable.

Avoiding the Barolo price tag

I love the Valtellina because it offers such great value. People have Barolo tastes but they don’t want to spend the Barolo price tag, so I’ll list a Valtellina or a nebbiolo from one of the other areas in Alto Piemonte as an alternative. Right now I have Mamete Prevostini’s entry-level nebbiolo from Valtellina. The 2008 is the current vintage and I can list it for $12 a glass.

Selling Lambrusco

People love the [Medici Ermete Lambrusco Reggiano Concerto] once they try it, and our staff loves it. It’s kind of become our house Lambrusco. It’s really great with our food. The Concerta is mostly at the pizzerias. At the pizzerias, it’s a lot of glasses, or else people just hunker down with a single bottle.

The ultimate pizza wine

I like to drink rosé and I look for high acid rosé with tomato sauce and cheese—high acid makes sense to me. One of my favorites is the Erste + Neue rosé of lagrein from Alto Adige. That works really well with almost all of our pizzas. That and the salsiccia is especially great, because it has a bit of red bell pepper.

photo by Grace Sager

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