Raj Parr is an absolute icon in the world of food & wine. Even more than is legendary blind tasting skills or encyclopedic knowledge of wines, the man is gracious and wildly passionate about wine. We asked 4 questions to the master sommelier, winery proprietor, James Beard award winning author, partner at the acclaimed RN74, and photographer of an envy-ridden Instagram account. Have a glass of balanced California Pinot and enjoy.
You have deep roots in the SF food & wine culture, is SF as exciting as it was? Who’s moving the needle?
I think SF is even more exciting. So many new restaurants- Progress, Liholiho Yatch Club, Pabu etc. The food & wine culture and the experienced diners makes SF one of the greatest Food cities in the world. I used to live there. Now I live in Santa Barbara and miss it.
You’re well traveled, what’s your take on how wine is perceived in countries that don’t have a history with wine such as India or China?
I think there is very little wine culture in India and China. I think wine is perceived as a status symbol right now. It will take many years of education for those countries to get to where the U.S. is.
In addition to multiple wine/restaurant projects you’re involved with, what project(s) do you have in mind that you’d love to do, but simply don’t have the time right not? What’s on your bucketlist?
I almost opened an Indian restaurant with Michael Mina in 2013 but the project was shelved. I hope that we can someday open that restaurant.
[Update, in 2018 Raj did in fact open an Indian restaurant! Bibi Ji in downtown Santa Barbara offers an approachable and modern twist on traditional Indian cuisine. Of course, there’s a killer wine list!]
Nuggets of wisdom for our inquisitive millennial audience?
Trust your palate and keep an open mind. Try as many wines as possible. Don’t always drink wines that are in your comfort zone. This experience will open your eyes!
Bonus Question: My 4 year wants to know if you prefer bottle or tap water?
I almost always go for Tap water.