Movers & Shakers

Movers & Shakers: Ramona Founder & Sommelier Jordan Salcito

November 17, 2018

Jordan Salcito wearing the Elsie dress, photographed at Legacy Records in New York


When it comes to libations, Jordan Salcito is the ultimate insider. Not only is she an incredible sommelier and the director of wine special projects at David Chang's Momofuku, but the Colorado native is also the entrepreneur behind Bellus Wines and Ramona, the organic Italian wine spritz that comes, yes, in an easy-to-imbibe can. We know what you're thinking: How do you get
that dream job, right? Here, Jordan spills all and reveals her expert guide to the best bottles of the season (hello, holiday hostess gift) as well as the top wine pairings come Turkey Day.

How did you get into the beverage business?

I side-stepped into the wine world in 2006, while working in the kitchen alongside Chef Daniel Boulud at an extraordinary wine event, the La Paulée de Nièges. That particular Paulée, held in Aspen, CO, was small, intimate, and transformative. I had the chance to cook alongside Daniel that weekend as well as ski and converse with several of Burgundy’s most legendary winemakers, who, to my surprise, were some of the most thoughtful, extraordinary people I’d ever met. I’d long enjoyed wine as a vehicle for understanding culture and history and Daniel encouraged me to work harvest that fall, where I had the chance to spend two weeks in the vines and winery and truly fell head over heels in love with the region.

And what do you love about it?

I love that wine is both a journey and a connective tissue. I love that wine is a door to an education about so many other points of view and philosophies and places in this world. My life in Manhattan is so fast-paced, I am grateful for the pause wine brings to a day, the moment of reflection and appreciation that is a natural reaction to something that takes so much time, and skill and dedication to form—something that is very much a counterpoint to our life online and under artificial lighting.
Ramona Ruby Grapefruit and Lemon wine spritz
Jordan Salcito wearing the Marly sweater

What are the top wines to try for fall 2018?

I’m excited about so many different wines in this moment!
Some current favorites include Luis Anxo Rodriguez Vázquez “A Teixa” white blend from Ribeiro, Spain (2015); Michel Autran ‘Ciel Rouge’ Vouvray from Loire, France (2015); Craven Wines, Pinot Noir, Faure Vineyard from, Stellenbosh, South Africa (2015); Seven Springs Vineyard Gamay, Eola Amity Hills from Oregon, USA (2016); Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage “Farconnet” from Rhône Valley, France (2013); Ashes & Diamonds “Bates Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Cruz Mountains, CA (2016). This last one is mailing-list only but worth getting on the list for.

Could you share some insider tips to ordering wine at a restaurant?

1. It is always helpful to befriend the sommelier if the restaurant has a wine program you respect and trust. She will always have the best insight into what is showing well, what is new and what will likely be in best form for your meal!
2. If you’re ordering a bottle of champagne, white wine glasses (as opposed to flutes) are going to allow the champagne to be its most expressive.
3. If, like me, you generally start with a bottle of sparkling or white and transition into red, order both at the beginning of the meal so you don’t have to pause your conversation once dinner is underway.

Top three tips to planning a great party?

1. Have a drink (alcoholic and non) available for guests as soon as they walk in the door.
2. Make sure you know allergies/aversions before planning the menu.
3. Wear something you love.

Your all-time favorite holiday party memory?

A friend in the art world, Gordon, hosts a holiday party every year in his gorgeous townhouse tucked away in a hidden downtown NYC alley. The first year I attended was over a decade ago, as a date accompanying my now-husband. Gordon is a master at keeping rosé champagne and conversation flowing, and his guests always have thoughtful and informed conversations and the most stunning, artistic outfits. My favorite memory is that first year because I had just fallen in love and everything seemed particularly star-kissed and magical that evening.  
Jordan Salcito wearing the Marly sweater, photographed at Legacy Records in New York


Pro tips to wine pairings for Thanksgiving?

Juicy, low-tannin red wines are a no-brainer for Thanksgiving. Happily, Cru Beaujolais (Gamay from one of the ten best villages, or crus) has become so universally beloved, because now there are plenty of excellent bottles available everywhere in the U.S. One that’s exceptionally delicious but hard to track down is the brand-new Domaine David Chapel, owned by husband-and-wife duo Michelle and David (they are also the parents of adorable twin one-year-old girls). Thankfully, they’ll release a bit more wine next year! Look for their “Julienas” cuvée as well as their Beaujolais Village, available in magnum, too.

And what is Thanksgiving like at your house?

I always start the day with coffee and exercise. Growing up, my family would run in an amazing little community run called the Turkey Trot in Genesee, CO—then we’d return home to help with Thanksgiving dinner preparations. My parents are both incredible cooks—my dad loves making the turkey and pumpkin pie, and my mom, sisters and I have all cooked together since I was young. Now that I live in New York, Henry (my two year old) and I bake a pie, some vegetable sides and cranberry sauce (guilty pleasure) the night before, then we go to visit my husband's family where my mother-in-law reliably turns up excellent mojitos and we all help with dinner before sitting down with a moment of reflection.

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