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Paul's Picks: 5 Sommeliers That Kick Ass

Paul Einbund is the wine director of the Slanted Door restaurant group. He's also worked as the sommelier at Frances, Coi and more. Look for him here every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter@pauleinbund.

San Francisco is lucky in that we have such an amazing dining community.  On any given night, sommeliers will be gathering at one of many of our great restaurants, tasting wine and sharing bottles.  

Raj Parr, RN74
Yeah, I know every list has him, every article on wine quotes him, but there’s a reason for it. This guy is simply the best sommelier out there. He knows more about everything than anyone, but more important is that he wants to share that information!  His new book, Secrets of the Sommelier, is incredibly cool as well.  

Eric Railsback, RN74
So when you work under Raj it’s easy to look good. What Eric does that makes me so impressed is that he isn't trying to show off or prove anything. He is cool and calm and does his job—he also happens to be doing it really well too. Lots of the wines at RN-74 are Raj’s picks, but more and more you can see Eric putting some delicious, affordable stuff on there as well.  I love that when I go in to RN-74 I can find wines that I have just fallen in love with and Eric is already pouring them by the glass there.  I also love that the list is full of old Inglenooks and wines that many people might not be thinking about anymore.  I had a 1968 Inglenook last week and it was drinking incredible.

Chris Deegan, Nopa

Love Nopa, the whole deal. It’s perfect for this economy, it’s perfect for any time’s economy! Chris is making a list of wines to drink that is approachable for everyone and that’s the coolest part. If I want to go in there and get something super obscure, I am sure to be pleased. If I just want something simple and tasty, no problem, that’s also there. Nopa is the place my wife Vanessa and I go to have a meal but I always end up being inspired by something.  Recently I went in and had a bottle of 2005 Huet Clos du Bourg Demi-Sec.  This wine is delicious and inspired me to pour one of their wines at Frances.  I was on a wine panel with Chris the other day and he was so good at delivering information it made me wonder why he doesn’t speak more.

David Lynch, Quince

The guy wrote the book on Italy—literally!  Super cool, super smart and an authority on all things Italy (and maybe a couple of other things too).  He has a dry wit and an incredible wine program.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a big list like the one David put together at Quince, with more affordable wines.  Sure, it’s a treasure trove of crazy bottles but there are a ton of wines to drink around $50!  Kinda shows you where David’s head is at, he just wants his guests to be able to drink wine.

Shelley Lindgren, A-16

And here’s why: When I go to one of her restaurants and she is there, I don’t even look at the wine list. No one has turned me on to more wines that have really excited me the way Shelley has.  Years ago she served me a bottle of Capichera Vermentino.  I fell in love and started pouring it by the glass.  The story is that this wine had been sitting in the warehouse for a long time and Shelley discovered it, turned a few of us on to it, and we sold it all.  The importer didn’t bring in the next few vintages of the wine because the old vintage sat in the warehouse so long!  All it takes is one good sommelier to discover something and spread the word.

The fact that she can do so quietly and with out any ego in such a loud, bustling restaurant is another feat.