Alexandra Thomas, Sommelier for Adalina in Chicago, joins us to reflect on her multifaceted upbringing, split between Chicago and rural Wisconsin and her journey into the world of wine.
She shares how her family had a house in Wisconsin where they spent their summers and every large break from school. While in college in Iowa, Alexandra would be introduced to wine working for an Italian family, and also meet a sommelier for the first time.
“After I got really into wine, my boss at the time, who owned the wine store I was in, said ‘You should start doing your levels. I was like ‘What are you talking about?’
Alexandra, discusses the technical and personal aspects of being a sommelier. She touches on the importance of understanding varietal percentages and being able to interpret and educate others on their palates. She emphasizes the importance of being approachable and listening to guests, rather than pushing certain products or prices.
“You really do have to teach, be patient and be kind. A lot of sommeliers are very impatient and not the most kind, because they're thinking on a process level.
It's like mathematicians that don't have time to teach you algebra, but some of the greats can teach you algebra in a way that you can understand it. That's the technical versus personal.”
Alexandra reflects on the challenges of working in the wine industry, including long hours and working holidays and weekends, and the physical toll it can take on a person. she also highlights the personal fulfillment and passion that can come from cultivating a love of wine in guests and encouraging their exploration.
Tune in to hear more on how Alexandra fell in love with wine and the community that surrounds it on this episode of The Sommelier Podcast.