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We Dream in Red & White

Mina Group’s Wine Director Rajat Parr Talks Wine with Joseph & Curtis

2012 July 1
by Joseph & Curtis

Rajat ParrRajat Parr began his career as an apprentice to one of the industry’s most acclaimed master sommeliers, Larry Stone at Rubicon. From there he worked at Fifth Floor in San Fransisco which became a smashing success.

Michael Mina began courting Rajat and was amazed at how much wine the little restaurant sold and in 2003 Rajat joined Mina Group which now boasts over 20 restaurants. We sat down and discussed the importance on cellaring wine, keys to being a successful somm and his pick for a below the radar country making tremendous Rosé.

Let’s hear what Rajat had to say…

How did you get into the restaurant business?

I grew up in Calcutta and my family had restaurants in New Delhi so I was always around them…i then went to school in New Hyde Park in Ny to become a chef (CIA) then I fell in love with wine and moved to San Fran and worked at Rubicon under Larry Stone…got more on the wine side of it.

Is it true you never tasted wine until the age of 20?

Rajat at a wine eventYup never tasted wine until 20?

What was you first love of wine?

Burgundy…at CIA then more at Rubicon..Larry showed one in particular that just blew my mind..I wondered how does that happen from simple grapes..to this day it amazes me.

Tell us about Larry Stone…

Father figure to this day…mentor and he was the wine director at Rubicon where I was a food runner but slowly took me under his wing. A terrific teacher,great mentor and one of the greatest men I know.

Tell us about the 5TH FLOOR in San Fran?

I left Rubicon and this was the first gig of my own…it was kinda crazy a restaurant on the 5th floor with no sign etc. It just popped..it was small and just the right time.

How did you hook up with Michael?

He was best friends with the chef from 5th floor and he couldn’t believe how much wine we sold at a small restaurant…he always wanted to work with me and after like three years he asked me to join Mina Group in 2002 and now we are 20+ restaurants deep.

What is your opinion about learning about wine?

Rajat grabbing a bottle in the cellarTo taste it…ask yourself the question what is it that you are tasting…close your eyes and ask yourself what am I tasting..you must have the same feeling as the grape had the feeling at the vineyard.

Why are wine cellars imperative?

Because wine is like children and you must watch them grow. There are some wines that are meant to be drunk but the cellar worthy wines have so much evolve in the bottle that you should taste some every 6 months and be able to drink wines at their peak.

Favorite wine story?

Guy who came into 5th floor and he ordered 78 Roman Conti $5,000 for the bottle and he poured me a glass…that was one cool dude!

Favorite chefs besides Michael?

Daniel Boulud

New trends?

In restaurants they have become much less formal and relaxed with great wine lists

Up and coming wine regions?

Corsica and Austria…Corsica for some of the best rose I have ever tried…too few producers but its coming.

Secrets of the SommelierAdvice to somms?

Stay humble…keep tasting…every wine is going to or can surprise you

Advice to collectors?

Keep open mind..keep tasting..you never know what gem you can find..they all don’t have to be expensive..be a leader not a follower

Tell us about the book…

It has alot of fun stories..it’s serious but fun. Lots of great wine people!


3 Responses leave one →
  1. July 2, 2012

    Great story and achievement in life. It is with people like you that will make wine more enjoyable. Cheers

  2. July 5, 2012

    Raj is great! I met him at a wine course at Ceasar’ Palace in 1997 while he was a Rubicon. It has been a wonder to watch his career blossom. A perfect balance of humility, poise, and stunning knowledge!

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