Adam Wilkins Sommelier Altitude Shangri-La Sydney

Adam Wilkins – Sommelier, Shangri-La Sydney

Adam Wilkins – Acting Head Sommelier, Altitude, Shangri-La Sydney

In this interview, Adam Wilkins, Acting Head Sommelier at Altitude on the 36th floor of Shangri-La Sydney, shares some insights into the industry.

What do you do?

I work as a sommelier at Shangri-la Sydney, where I coordinate with my executive to make a distinctive wine list of Australian wines to showcase premium wineries, both well-known and boutique, to international and local guests of the hotel.

How did you get into the industry?

I got into the wine industry by chance; I originally started at Shangri-la as a glass polisher. Over a year and a half, I decided to work as a mixologist, where my interest began in learning about the styles and methods of making different spirits. Cocktail making, however, didn’t take as an interest of mine, so I moved back into restaurants where I learned about the beauty of wine and how it matches food and where the Executive Sommelier took a liking to me and helped me cultivate my knowledge and push me to learn more about what I ended up loving.

What food memory from your childhood or travels stands out?

I love travelling and going to Germany to see my grandmother (Omi), who, whenever I come over, always makes a beautiful almond cake before I arrive at her house and always makes large meals for me and my parents.

What’s the best/ worst part of your job?

The best part of my job is that I travel to beautiful places around Australia, where I meet a lot of different wineries and wine families.

What’s one of your favourite food and beverage pairings?

My favourite match for wine is Nebbiolo and Apricot chicken. The spices from the wine and the dish work so well together, and the fact they are pretty complex makes it fit together so well.

The perfect day off would be …

My perfect day off is spending time with my friends, going out for dinner, and playing board games at home with them or my family. Especially my sister, as we have grown a lot together, and no one knows me better than her.

A day in the life of a Adam Wilkins …

… starts with opening up our cellars, going into team briefing and, if service isn’t too busy, getting into contact with wine suppliers about new vintages and wines we may want to add to the list.

During service, I help guests enjoy a glass or bottle of wine and cocktails. I help clear plates, take orders for food, and then check stock for our upcoming services and orders through our system.

At least once a week, I go through the bookings and see if there are any guests with large bookings or special requests for wine that I will have to organise.

During the time between services, I meet up with suppliers, adjust the wine lists and create costings through our order system and point-of-sale system.

What does Adam Wilkins do for fun?

For fun, I like playing video games or board games with friends and family and making and painting Warhammer models at home.

I also love going for walks in our national parks.

What’s something you’d like guests to know about Shangri-la Hotel Sydney?

Shangri-la provides many opportunities to all employees, allowing anyone to find what best suits their taste in hospitality. Shangri-la helped me find my passion and allowed me to travel to different places to experience new things and learn more about cultures different from my own. And even if you leave, they will welcome you back into the family with open arms if you ever decide to return.

How have you grown in your profession? What are your key learnings from your start in the industry until now? Any misconceptions?

I’ve grown a lot over the past four years in my profession. For me, the key to learning about the wine industry is to make sure where your passion lies. This may be in particular regions or styles or even if it’s exploring different areas of the wine industry such as wine making, Sommelier work, or a sales rep of a particular brand.

In terms of somm work, a common misconception and especially when I first started, was that it’s a linear job where you only work in front of house or go on wine trips. There is actually a decent bit of administrative work to do, as well as learning a lot about management styles and team leadership.

What do you want people to know about being a sommelier as a profession?

As a sommelier, we love it when people challenge us, going outside the box, or even if we have a favourite style we may not have listed. We also believe that there is nothing better than your favorite wine, a good sommelier should always listen to the guest to find the best option for you.

What’s your view on the wine industry scene in Sydney?

Sydney is very diverse in the wine scene; more and more wine bars open up all the time. In Australia, we are lucky to have international guests come in and want to experience Australian wines as we keep a lot of our high-quality produce here. You can even experiment with many different cuisines and matchings for wine. Australia and Sydney, in general, have a lot to offer, both nationally and internationally.

What practices do you currently implement or hope to implement to work towards social responsibility and sustainability in the future?

We currently use the Corivan system to actively reduce the wastage of our wines; the capsules themselves are recyclable. Shangri-la Sydney also uses the ORCA system, which recycles food waste into safe water, which is distributed through our piping system throughout the hotel.

What can guests look forward to in the upcoming months? 

In the next few months, we have Vivid coming up in Sydney, where the whole Circular Quay turns into a massive light show with sculptures and even fun activities. The food for Altitude restaurant is created to have vibrant colours and intricate designs to mimic this, with some beautiful wines to showcase the vibrancy of Australian winemaking.

Read more interviews similar to this one with Adam Wilkins here, and stay updated with the latest gourmet and travel recommendations here and here.

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