"Where’s the Chianti?" Shelley Lindgren gets that question all the time. As the wine director and co-owner of A16, the standout Southern Italian restaurant in San Francisco, Shelley has built a wine list that’s more than just an invitation to adventure—it’s a command. There are no Chiantis, no Barolos, no Amarones. Instead, the 350-bottle list is stocked with varieties most diners have never heard of: Aglianico, Casavecchia, Pallagrello, all grown in Southern Italian regions like Campania, Basilicata and Molise.
"If my wine list is everything you already know, then where’s the fun?" Shelley asks. "My job is to show you something new and take you on a journey."
Shelley shares a taste for adventure with her husband, Greg, who co-owns three of San Francisco’s best, most inventive bars, including Rye, an ode to haute bartending and rye whiskey that recently opened in the edgy Tenderloin district. Greg and his business partner, Jon Gasparini, are both mixologists, and they lay out ingredients on the counters behind the bar like they would in a kitchen’s prep area, filling bins with fresh herbs and fruit from farmers’ markets. The two men turn out intriguing concoctions like their signature basil gimlet and the Golden Rye Flip, a mix of fresh clementines and Advocaat, a creamy Dutch liqueur made from egg yolks, brandy and vanilla. They also stock hard-to-find liqueurs under the counter and break them out for those in the know. Looking for a rare Amaro, the bittersweet Italian herbal aperitif, which can be relatively hard to find in the United States? Ask for one by name, and Greg might pour you a taste. He bought an obscure bottle in Italy in October, when he and Shelley were on one of their regular scouting trips.