Welcome to PassTheSalt: Q&A, an extension of our monthly talk series where we invite professionals from a range of backgrounds to give us a glimpse of what gets them up in the morning. This is where we celebrate creativity, craftsmanship and innovation in all its forms, keeping us sharp, inspired and tapped into the world outside of the Sectorlight walls.
Last week saw corks popping across the summer skyline as Londoners descended upon bars and pubs for London Wine Week. Keen to soak up some knowledge, as well as Bordeaux, we decided to turn our heads to the wine industry and the creativity that fuels it. As Head Sommelier at Michelin-starred restaurant, Pétrus, Alex Gilbert-Petz was our go-to insider. Inspired by the communal spirit at the heart of the wine industry, Alex offers his perspective.
Sectorlight: A good wine is…
Alex G-P: Simply one that needs to be open and drunk in the company of stalwart friends.
Countless litres of wine must have passed your lips over the years, what keeps you inspired on a daily basis?
Being in the company of other wine professionals, sharing ideas and keeping updated on wine news. Especially meeting and tasting with the winemakers on a one-to-one basis.
What have been the highlights in your career as a sommelier and what does the future hold?
The highlight has been serving members of the Royal household, including Her Majesty the Queen, for her private Christmas party. As for the future, I would like to go into wine consultancy and am currently studying to become a Master Sommelier, a position held by only 230 people in the world.
And what about creativity? How does it play a role in being a successful sommelier?
Creativity is essential. After learning the science behind the different flavour/taste components within a wine, you then need to harness your creativity and imagination to correctly pair these with the food dish.
Why is wine so important to the dining experience?
I think wine is an integral part of fine dining and one of the most important. The right wines can accentuate the good flavours of a meal, bringing out certain flavours and nuances. A good match enhances the characteristics of both the food and the wine. The wrong pairings can ruin the dining experience altogether by making foods taste bitter, overly sweet or, in some cases, metallic.
London offers countless spots for Oenophiles, where is your favourite corner of the city to share a bottle with friends?
I worked in East London for a couple of years and the abundance of wine and eclectic bars in the area are fantastic - my favourite being Sager + Wilde in Hackney.
We know you love wine but do you secretly spend your weekends sipping Piña Coladas and Carling?
I have to be honest, there will be absolutely no Piña Coladas but nothing beats an ice-cold pint on a Sunday!
Sager + Wilde