With a vibrant journey spanning continents, cheese, wine, and music, Frame Wine Director Diego Aliste isn’t your typical sommelier.
Born in Santiago, Chile, Diego moved to the U.S. at age seven, living first in Miami before settling in the Ann Arbor area.
Diego’s foray into the world of food began rather unceremoniously at McDonald’s. “I liked working there, but there was something about it that was definitely not the money,” he quips, “because it was so bad.”
His appetite for culinary adventures truly took off when he joined Zingerman’s mail-order department, where he evolved into the much-loved cheesemonger. His passion for cheese blossomed into an intricate dance with taste profiles and customer rapport, tasting 54 cheeses every Thursday.
“What that taught me is to not only respect food and tell the story of these cheesemakers, but to create a specific taste profile for the customer,” he notes, pride evident in his voice.
Diego’s tenure at Spencer — a tiny, upscale farm-to-table establishment in Ann Arbor — marked his initiation into the world of natural wines.
“Through staff training and needing to learn about wine, I ended up really liking it a lot,” he shares.
Moving to Detroit to pursue a burgeoning DJ-ing career, Diego continued his wine journey at Ferndale’s Western Market. His mentors, Jarred Gild and Putnam Weekley, schooled him in the art of wine buying, and how to run an exciting program featuring a staggering variety of wines.
“They taught me everything about how to buy wine, how it works, why it’s important to have relationships — basically everything about how the wine business works,” Diego says.
Today, his wine philosophy is simple and inclusive: “The wine industry has a lot of gatekeeping. I firmly don’t believe in that.”
Diego’s desire to give everybody access to good wine, regardless of their status, speaks volumes about his character.
All throughout his wine career, Diego’s love for music never dimmed. He produced beat tapes and instrumental albums, earning acclaim from respected music blogs, working with the likes of Detroit artists Danny Brown and Sheefy McFly.
Now at Frame, Diego brings his unique blend of expertise in cheese, deep understanding of wine, and lively DJ spirit to the table.
He is also a devoted family man, having just married his wife, Audrey, in 2023. As the step-dad to a pre-teen and toddler, he’s also mastering the fine art of fatherhood.
To dine at Frame under Diego’s direction is to experience his passion for sharing the world of food and wine in a way that’s both informative and inviting, just like the man himself.
Follow Frame Wine Director Diego Aliste on Instagram: @_chiego