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Ian Becker, Wine Director

Ian Becker, Wine Director for Arlequin Wine Merchant and Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, is a Cincinnati transplant who developed a love of wine while working in restaurants during college. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Journalism, he moved to the Bay Area in 2001 and began sports writing for the Napa Valley Register. Surrounded by hundreds of wineries and top restaurants, he soon discovered his inner oenophile and shifted careers to follow his true passion.

After working in Bay Area restaurants for three years, he joined the Arlequin Wine Merchant team in 2005 to learn the ins and outs of the wine industry as well as manage its extensive inventory.

As Wine Director, Becker is responsible for cultivating the award-winning wine program at Absinthe and Arlequin Wine Merchant, and works closely with Executive Chef Adam Keough and Sommelier Gretchen Buck to craft a selection that complements the French-influenced menu. He hand selects every wine to ensure customers receive the finest quality and best value. “The creative fulfillment of putting together a collection of wine that our customers enjoy is the most meaningful aspect of my work,” Becker says. “It’s almost like being a curator, rather than simply a buyer.”

In addition to his responsibilities as Wine Director, Becker co-founded San Francisco Natural Wine Week, which aims to raise awareness of the natural wine movement by showcasing well known and boutique producers of natural wines from around the world. The goal of this annual event is to engage and educate a community of wine enthusiasts on the methods of natural wine making.

Becker lives in San Francisco and loves the outdoors, cooking dinner at home with friends, basketball, reading, and film.

Gretchen Buck
Originally from Stockton, CA, where 90% of American asparagus is grown, Gretchen Buck grew up with a destiny: to identify the perfect white wines for difficult pairings. Gretchen started working in commercial photography in Chicago right after graduation from Concordia College, and her work is still out there: if you’ve ever shopped remotely for a J.C. Penney bedspread, you’ve encountered her photographic oeuvre. But material success didn’t move her, and she began picking up the occasional shift at an intimate French restaurant in the Windy City. There she tasted her future in a glass of Chablis from Laurent Tribut. Gretchen’s passion for wine keeps her here at AWM: come in and chat with her about her passion—funky (especially Rhone) white bottlings…and what to serve with asparagus.

Member Benefits


Arlequin Wine Merchant is a specialty wine store featuring an extensive selection of premium wines from around the world. Whether you are seeking a bargain for your burger, a special wine for a special meal or occasion, a quality gift, or filling your wine rack or stocking your cellar, Arlequin Wine Merchant is eager to help. We hand select every wine, so you can be assured of receiving the finest quality and best value. We put as much effort into finding great value wines under $10 as we do acquiring the hottest hard-to-find, small production California releases.


Our experienced staff offers our customers an unsurpassed level of service, knowledge and personal attention. Please visit us at our store in historic Hayes Valley in San Francisco. We look forward to serving you.

Global Wine Club

Ever had a great bottle of wine at a restaurant and never been able to find it in a store?

Shortly after opening Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in 1998, we opened Arlequin Wine Merchant to specifically eliminate that problem. In other words, you can enjoy a bottle at Absinthe, Comstock Saloon, Arlequin Cafe or Boxing Room and then buy a bottle (or a case) to take home with you.