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Alicia Towns

Alicia Towns, Wine Manager

Grill 23 & Bar
161 Berkeley St.
Boston, MA

In case you've wondered what to do with a degree in Psychology, Alicia Towns has the answer: commit yourself to a life in wine. Ask Alicia about special moments and she recalls them by bottlings. Why did you become a sommelier? Penfolds 1985 Grange. What about your first date with your husband? 1994 Etude Cabernet. Thanksgiving, 1998? Sean Thackrey's 1996 Orion. And when he proposed? Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl 1994. But it all began with that first sip of range, which Alicia calls "the defining moment in my career, a revelation."

A transplant from Chicago, Alicia joined Grill 23 & Bar in Boston in 1991 and worked her way up from waitstaff to management. Along the way, she showed an exceptional (self-taught) grasp of the intricacies of wine, and was promoted to Wine Manager in 1997. Since then, Alicia has expertly and assertively met the restaurant's challenge to develop one of the top lists in the city, in effect maturing a good wine list into a full-blown wine program. She has more than doubled the selections to over 400 (soon to be 600), introduced a cellaring system, and traveled the globe in search of rare vintages and hard-to-come-by cases. Every evening at Grill 23, Alicia and her two assistants work the room, deciphering, offering suggestions and simply sharing a passion for wine. Working closely with Executive Chef Jay Murray, Alicia is always prepared to pair wine with food, and together she and Jay spread their knowledge by teaching throughout the Boston area.

Considered a force on Boston's wine scene, Alicia serves as guest sommelier at a number of events each year, travels frequently to meet winemakers in California and Europe, and is sought after for her seasonal "picks" by publications ranging from The Boston Globe to MODE. Her knowledge and enthusiasm were rewarded with a "Rising Star" Award from the Boston chapter of Les Dames D'Escoffier in 1998.

In addition to an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Illinois, Alicia earned a Masters in Psychology from Harvard while carrying out her responsibilities at the Grill. Alicia has just returned from her honeymoon, spent touring South African vineyards.

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