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Somm Thoughts: Interview with Thomas Pastuszak, Wine Director The NoMad

IMG - Sommelier Thomas Pastuszak

What wines are you drinking these days and why?

While I keep a lot of classics and old favorites in my rotations (Champagne, Chablis, Barolo/Barbaresco, Finger Lakes), lately, I’ve been drinking a lot of Northern Rhône Valley reds. I’m talking Syrah from Hermitage, Cornas, Côte-Rotie, Crozes-Hermitage, St. Joseph and the surrounding area. There’s a lot of great value to be had from top producers in these appellations (around St. Joseph especially). In this cool part of France, Syrah is spicy, savory, mineral-driven, and very fresh. It’s truly the motherland for this grape. In fact, I’m such a lover of wines from the area, that my friend Dustin Wilson (Master Somm and founder of Verve Wine) and I have spent the last year organizing a special event focused on the wines of the area. The event is called Reboule du Rhône, and we created a weekend of tastings, dinners, and revelry to celebrate the wines of the Northern Rhône Valley. We’ve organized attendance by the very best winemakers from the region to raise money for a charity that we care deeply about: No Kid Hungry. Reboule du Rhône will take place from November 17-19, 2017 in NYC. If you’re curious to know more or to snag tickets for the events, visit our website. (

How do you balance the wine selections at NoMad between consumer-demanded classics and fresh ideas?

The wine selections at NoMad feature the best producers in the world have a strong focus on cool-climate regions, and, of course, pair beautifully with NoMad cuisine. While the list draws heavily from the classic regions of Europe, we have a lot of fun exploring lesser-known wines in our ‘NoMadic’ sections. Think Sciaccarellu from Corsica, Cinsault from Lebanon, Semillon from Australia, and plenty more. Doing so gives us the chance to offer great back-vintage wines for those seeking something classic and mature, or to take someone on a journey with something new.

What do you think is the role of the modern-day sommelier and where does service at NoMad fit into that paradigm?

The modern-day sommelier needs to be able to do it all. First, they must serve as both concierge and maitre d’ for their regulars at the restaurant, plus be able to recommend other places to explore both in their town and abroad. Second, they must know their wine list inside and out, and be able to translate what their guests are asking for into the perfect bottle. Finally, they must be humble, passionate about learning (as well as teaching), and never feel that they are above helping in anyway at the restaurant. If a table needs to be bussed, they should be as eager to do so as they would be to recommend an incredible bottle of Burgundy. At NoMad, these are some of the most important traits and skills that we look for when seeking new sommeliers, as well as what we preach within the family that is our sommelier team.

What’s your dream wine destination?

I’ve had the privilege of visiting numerous excellent wine regions, both exploring new ones, as well as returning to favorites. That said, I had an incredible vacation with my wife and newborn son a year ago in the area of Cassis, Provence. The wines of the region are diverse and beautiful, whether it’s savory Cassis Rosé or spicy Bandol Rouge, and it is one of the most picturesque beach destinations I’ve been too – great wine and a beautiful beach location are a win-win for me!

What’s your go-to bottle for under $25?

I love Chablis, and one of the best value-driven examples is Vincent Mothe Chablis 2015. It’s lean, precise, aromatic, and oh-so refreshing, which makes it a great sipping wine as well as a fabulous wine to pair with. You get a lot of bang for your buck.

What’s your celebration day splurge?

One of my all-time favorite Champagne producers is Pierre Peters: the domaine’s top bottling ‘Les Chetillons’ is sourced from their finest vineyard in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and is only made in the very best vintages. It is delicious on release but also ages beautifully, and while there is never a bad time to drink great Champagne, I still think celebrations call for it!