The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2016

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Page 130 of 132

130  /  the tasting panel  /  june 2016 As California Wine Merchant adapts to current market demands, Import Specialist Stephanie Schrankel broadens the international selection. While still heavily focused on California wines, the merchant now offers more wines from dif- ferent countries and regions, looking especially toward wines at an affordable price-point. Ahead of its time, Greg O'Flynn established California Wine Merchant in the Marina District of San Francisco in 1974. After decades of build- ing relationships with California winemakers and wineries, California Wine Merchant prides itself on offering many low-production wines which are difficult to get at other wine stores. The merchant's concept has expanded over the years to include a wine bar and a wine club as well. It is through increasing the number of by-the-glass selections that international wines find space. The quarterly wine club shipment typically includes one reasonably priced global selection as well. With so many wines being poured at high volume, the merchant can also extend great deals in retail. With the addition of the Coravin, they offer small pours of higher-end wines, too. The best part of the multi-faceted programs is that "you can attract people with wine knowl- edge, but also those without the knowledge," explains Schrankel, as she further expresses her disdain for stuffy service. By tasting wines by the glass, guests can then branch out to wines with similar taste profiles. Stephanie finds that the easiest way to introduce a guest to an unfamiliar wine is to liken it to something rec- ognizable. By repeatedly doing this, she gains the trust of returning guests and the wine club, allowing her to bolster the import program. TAKING INVENTORY WITH . . . Knowledge: Even if it's not the somm, I like it when servers and bussers can answer questions. A thoughtful menu, especially if pairing wine. Danny Meyer and his whole career, although I'm still hesitant about the no-tipping policy. Bugey-Cerdon AOP and desserts, especially spring fruit desserts. Souvla—get there faster. (It's a Greek sandwich shop and bar in San Francisco.) Slow service. When did "still or sparkling" become the greeting? Don't touch the rim of my glass—it has a stem for a reason. When a server says, "I'm going to be taking care of you." I'll be the judge of that. Exaggerated mark-ups— can I get a glass for less than $12? THE "5" LIST STEPHANIE SCHRANKEL'S TOP FIVE FAVES STEPHANIE SCHRANKEL'S TOP FIVE PET PEEVES STEPHANIE SCHRANKEL IMPORT SPECIALIST, CALIFORNIA WINE MERCHANT, SAN FRANCISCO by Allyson Gorsuch / photo by Stephanie Secrest "We're known for our approchability," notes Import Specialist Stephanie Schrankel, California Wine Merchant.

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