After years of cultivating his passion for wine, Riccardo Tarabelsi is eager to share his knowledge and palate with Sioux Falls diners.
The Italian native opened R Wine Bar in the historic Frank Building at 322 E. 8th Street in downtown Sioux Falls in October (the R is for the first initial of his first name).
“I grew up in a very Italian household,” said Tarabelsi. “We only spoke Italian at home and there was a bottle of chianti at the table every single meal.”
Tarabelsi was born in Florence, Italy, moved to Boston when he was 5, and has now called Sioux Falls home for many years.
“Wine was always kind of a part of my life and my upbringing,” said Tarabelsi, who got serious about the industry when he worked at the old Spezia location. “I think what really sparked my passion even more was my ability to teach others about it.”
At every point in his career, it’s been about educating not just his employees, but his guests as well.
Four years ago, Tarabelsi had plans to open up a wine bar when he was asked to be a part of the team that launched Fernson Brewing Company. It was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up, so he put his dream on the back burner.
As Fernson’s vice president of sales and marketing, Tarabelsi learned how to create a brand from scratch and have it become a local hit.
“Wine has always been this pull for me because, even as the craft beer thing grew, there wasn’t a day that went by someone didn’t ask me about wine because they still saw me as a trusted source,” he said. “So, a wine bar is a natural fit.”
R Wine Bar offers 20 wines by the glass and 50 by the bottle, as well as an Italian-themed menu featuring two charcuterie boards, three salads, and five paninis. Tarabelsi and his head chef Jerrica Kang hope to expand the menu soon to include pasta and pizza.
Take a Sip
Take a journey through Tuscany on your palate with this wine progression.
TABLE RED BLEND
This mix of Sangiovese (native red grape of Tuscany) and Cabernet is a nice entry level introduction to the Italian region.
Then, kick it up a notch and see the difference in quality with this glass of 100 percent Sangiovese after some barrel aging.
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO
Finish your tour of Tuscany with a glass of Riccardo’s favorite. This wine is aged for four years in oak and one year in the bottle before its release.
“As we get our feet under us, we’ ll be offering wine 101 classes, wine tasting events, and potentially some wine dinners,” said the owner. “Any chance we get to bring in a wine maker or wine supplier, we’ ll design an event around it.”
The wine list, which ranges in price from $6 to $14 for a glass, is designed to enable the staff to educate guests. It includes wines from around the world, with an emphasis on Italian varieties. Most bottles are available for $30 to $80, with prices up to $500.
R Wine Bar also has 12 tap lines so Tarabelsi can return the favor and support South Dakota’s breweries.
“For us, it’s about the experience when people come here,” said Tarabelsi, who has created a relaxing atmosphere in the beautiful historic building. The décor highlights the exposed timber and quartzite walls.
When guests purchase a bottle or several glasses of wine, a server at R Wine Bar will bring out a cork at the end of the meal. The group then writes their names and the date on the cork and drop it in the restaurant’s cork wall, becoming a part of its history.
R Wine Bar is open Monday through Thursday 3 to 10 p.M., Friday and Saturday 3 to 11 p.m., and is closed on Sundays.
For more information, visit rwinebar.com.
TAKE A BITE
What would wine be without a little food to pair with it? Here’s a “taste” of the menu…
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- Pecorino Romano
- Salame di Genoa
- Salame Sopressata
Chef Kang’s blend of spring mix and romaine, marinated portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced radish, tomato wedges, crumbled feta, crisped pancetta, sliced peppadews, and garnished with a lemon wedge. Served with sourdough bread.
Turkey Caprese Panino
Fresh-sliced smoked turkey, basil, tomato, fresh mozzarella, pesto, dash of salt and pepper, and basted with herbed olive oil. Served with a side of homemade pesto