Sommelier Becky Swanson
Delfina | San Francisco
Becky Swanson developed an interest in wine while working as a
server. Loving food and loving wine went hand in hand for Becky,
who didn’t feel the need to go to school or take courses but
learned on the job from mentors Jim Kennedy and Jeffrey Meisel.
At Delfina, Becky creates unconventional food and wine
matches to enhance both elements of the dining experience. Her matches
are as gutsy as she is: with a grilled octopus and warm white bean
salad, Becky pairs a Contini, Vernaccia di Oristano from 1985. It’s
an unusual pick and a brilliant pairing, with a light sherry flavor
and buttery mouth-feel. While Becky’s Italian-focused list
is modest, at only two pages, it’s also reasonably-priced
and full of quirky, unexpected picks.
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AB: When did you begin your wine career?
BS: At 22 years old.
AB: Describe your fondest wine memory.
BS: I always get really excited when I get introduced to something I’ve never had, so my introduction to wine when I was 15 and tasting my first Pinot was pretty important.
AB: Where have you worked previously?
BS: The Oval Room, Armani Café, and The Grand Café at the Hotel Monaco.
AB: What courses have you taken? Certifications? Awards won?
BS: I haven’t taken any courses yet but I’m not opposed to the idea. I have plans to take classes in the future, but I don’t feel as though I need certification.
AB: Who are some of your mentors? What have you learned from them?
BS: The wine directors at Delfina, Jim Kennedy of JK Imports and Jeffery Meisel.
AB: Do you favor Old World or New World wines?
BS: Old World – I like their restraint and complexity and the fact that they have a long tradition behind them.
AB: What is your favorite wine right now?
BS: Right now I really like Roero Arnais from Piedmont and Friulian wines.
AB: Tell me about a perfect wine and food match that you discovered.
BS: Pigato – a Ligurian white wine – with green ravioli, and Tocai Friuliano with Prosciutto and melon.
AB: What wines do you favor for your cellar at home?
BS: Southern Rhônes, Gigondas and Brunello di Montalcino.
AB: What is your wine resource book?
BS: Vino Italiano by Joe Bastianich.
AB: Which person in history would you most like to share a bottle of wine with?
BS: I would pour a Petite Arvine, a wine made from the Petite Arvine
grape that is indigenous to Valle d'Aosta, a northern region of Italy.
AB: What is your philosophy on wine and food?
BS: Food and wine should work together and enhance one another.
AB: If you weren’t a sommelier what do you think you’d be doing?
BS: If I weren’t in food and wine I think I would be a teacher.
AB: What are your ultimate career goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
BS: I’ll still be doing this in 30 years!
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