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Unfiltered: Alessia Ferrarello

The wine director for the Grade II-listed NoMad hotel, Marylebone, talks to Douglas Blyde about pairing emotions and wines, her inspirational grandfather, and the importance of being a team player.

Describe a formative wine experience?

My late grandfather, Giuseppe, had been a farmer before he went into recruitment. He could never stand still, and even after he sold his land and retired, he kept an allotment from which he would bring back grapes from a couple of rows of Zibibbo vines to craft wine for the family. I wish I could travel back in time to learn more from him and share a few bottles.

Where did you work before?

When I moved to London from Rome I got my first job in natural wine bar, Terroirs, which proved to be an epiphany, drawing me into the beautiful, ever-changing world of wine where one never stops learning. Other roles included Fera at Claridge’s, followed by Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham, where I took my love for lesser-known varieties and regions with me.

When did you join NoMad?

Having taken time to focus on my next move, I joined NoMad in January.

Do you oversee all wines in the building?

I do, which is fascinating. Every outlet within the hotel, from Atrium Bar to Side Hustle and also the guest rooms, has its own soul, and I truly relish the challenge of pairing the right wine with each setting.

How many sommeliers are in your team?

Three, and I am looking to expand my team. I believe a good attitude is the most important attribute over knowledge or experience which can be gained over time.

What is your favourite part of the master list?

Our incredible Nebbiolo selection, including Roagna Barbaresco Pajè 2014, which is available via Coravin.

And what do you want to change?

Fortunately, my legendary predecessor, Bella Babbitt and I share a similar taste, so I am very happy with what I have inherited.

What wines could you happily live without?

Generic, drab white wines such as poorly made New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and off-dry Prosecco.

And what should we be drinking more of?

Riesling, Loire Chenin Blanc, and, always, Nebbiolo!

What upcoming wine dinners are you planning?

We will soon be hosting a dinner about the “heroic” wines of Valtellina, Italy. Given the hotel’s focus on the variety and my innate love for it, it had to be Nebbiolo…

What is your favourite table in the house?

Table 60 in the Fireplace room. Everyone loves the main room in the restaurant because of the high, glass ceiling and the greenery all around, but I think the Fireplace room is particularly special for an intimate dinner.

What ingredients do you love and loathe?

Basil, which I could not live without, while I hate coriander.

What important lesson have you learned?

“No one is bigger than the team.”

Where else do you like to enjoy wine?

The Remedy, Sager + Wilde Hackney Road, and 40 Maltby Street.

Tell us something surprising about yourself?

I have studied six languages, including Latin and Japanese.

Who, from history, would you like to dine with?

I have this game with a friend, Margherita. She shouts an emotion or a person’s name, and I have to find a grape variety or a wine which represents it. I would love to share lunch with Freddie Mercury, and we’d drink exactly the type of wine I would associate with his persona: something pompous and flamboyant, like 2002 Salon!

NoMad – 28 Bow Street, London, WC2E 7AW; 020 3906 1600;;

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