San Francisco's Philosopher of Wine
Prologue: Quotations from Philosophers
The Rest of the Story: So you can see why the highly-respected "Wine and
Spirits" magazine called Raymond the "philosopher-king
of retailers." He can leap from the details of German
wine law to the ancient wine poems of Shih Ching
(200 B.C.) before you can say Chardonnay. His
credentials are awesome...wine buyer for major chains...
wine judge at national tastings...lectures to trade
groups. In fact, the only thing he doesn't know is
how to be haughty. You will never get absolutely top
guidance from a friendlier specialist.
- Plato, Greek philosopher—Nothing more excellent than
wine was ever granted man by God.
- Brillat-Savarin, French philosopher of the kitchen—A
meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.
- Raymond Fong, San Francisco philosopher of the wine
shop—I'd like to go back to 600 B.C and invite
Chinese philosopher Lau Tsu into my store. I would
say, "That which is natural is effortless." Then
he'd say, "That which is effortless is in harmony with
nature." Then I'd say "Wine is a beverage of nature,"
and pour him a glass in silence.
||461 California (cross street is Laural)
||Metered in front; free behind store
||Raymond Fong and Adel Shalabi. Adel can
more than hold his own in this crowd. After all, his
native land made wine 5,000 years before California
started. After graduating in accounting from Egypt's
University of Alexandria, he swung to wine action in
Italy, France, New York, and finally San Francisco.
Here are some of Raymond's current California choices:
- Pinot Noir—Quail Ridge Cellars
- Sauvignon Blanc—Havens Wine Cellars: Merryvale Vineyards
- Cabernet Sauvignon Style—Topaz
- Zinfandel—Sobon (lush); Jane Ballentine (elegant)
- For something unusual, a Sagiovese-Cabernet blend by Pietra Santa
- One of the shop's best buys, Toad Hollow Chardonnay at
The San Francisco Wine Club