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Unfiltered: Alessia Ferrarello

The head sommelier of Restaurant Sat Bains talks to Douglas Blyde about how an ambition to become a translator turned into a fully-fledged hospitality career, why Nebbiolo is worth persisting with, and what to match with brown crab meat “chawanmushi”…

What is your vintage? 

I was born in 1986 in sunny Catanzaro, southern Italy.

Where did you work before? 

I worked at Restaurant Story for two and a half years. Being in a job too long can make you feel too comfortable and perhaps a touch complacent, so I was in need of a change and Restaurant Sat Bains happened, exactly at the right time.

Describe your list? 

At 350 bins, the list is medium-sized – and that poses challenges. The focus has always been on small scale, artisanal wines. If there is a personal connection with the person who made the wine, even better.

What section of the list have you been working hardest on?

I have recently been working on our Champagne list, which is the most varied section, and is now almost complete. Not just your ordinary “apéritif”!

What is your favourite wine region?

I love Barolo over any other region, and I believe this is because it’s not a wine of simple pleasures. Nebbiolo is challenging and demanding, being very acidic and very tannic. But at the same time, it can be incredibly rewarding. I could sit and smell a glass of Beppe Rinaldi’s Barolo for hours – and that’s the beauty of it.

What has been a standout drinks match with a dish orchestrated by Sat Bains? 

Brown Crab meat chawanmushi with white crab meat, fennel and crab bisque with an amber Kisi from Georgia. I’ve loved introducing this wine to our guests – with all the history connected to winemaking in this country – and they loved it too, so it’s a win-win!

And what does Sat enjoy drinking? 

He loves reds with a great savoury, umami note, with a bit of age that adds to flavours which he jokingly describes as “death and rot”. Oh, and he loves sake!

What style of wine could you happily do without? 

Mass-produced, bland white wines.

Are there well-equipped minibars in the bedrooms at the venue? 

Not as such, but our bar is always available for our guests – which is much better than a minibar.

Who has been your mentor? 

It must be Raphaël Rodriguez, from Fera at Claridge’s. He taught me discipline and precision and, six years on since I worked there, he’s still my go-to counsellor whenever I change jobs.

What are the chocolate logs served at the end of a meal? 

They are made with different botanicals aimed at aiding your digestion, which we serve at the end of the meal with coffee and tea.

Tell us something surprising about yourself? 

Despite coming from a family of restaurateurs, hoteliers and chefs, I never thought I would actually end up working in a restaurant myself. I studied to become a translator and moved to London only to perfect my English. Once there, I casually landed a job at Terroirs (RIP) which irreversibly got me into wine. It must have been written in the stars.

What is your life motto?

“Homo faber suae quisque fortunae”, which roughly translates as “everyone is the creator of their own destiny”. Or at least I like to believe so.

What do you look for in team members?

I believe attitude is the most important thing over knowledge or experience – they can both be gained over a little time, but attitude is what makes you reach them. Peter, our last addition to the team, is the perfect example! If anyone would like to join the team please contact me at

Restaurant Sat Bains – Lenton Lane, Nottingham, NG7 2SA; 0115 986 6566;

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