Interview With A Sommelier – Alberto Gherardi

11th July 2023

Interview With A Sommelier - Alberto Gherardi

The World of Wine is beautifully showcased by an army of talented Sommeliers, who help the consumer discover their next favourite bottle, understand the different regions and pair a delicious meal with the right Glass of Bubbly.

In this feature, I speak with a man who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, his name is Alberto Gherardi, and let’s find out a bit about his life as a Sommelier.

Tell Us About Yourself

“I am an ambitious Sommelier who has always been driven by curiosity. The idea to step out of my comfort zone has never scared me, rather it has always excited me. That’s why I have found myself switching “paths” through the years. I graduated in economy and management, but wine has always been my real passion. I truly believed that I could make a career out of my love for this fascinating world. That’s how I started working as a Sommelier, after graduating from the Swiss Hotel Management School in Switzerland.

My dream is to become a Master of Wine, as I am finishing my WSET Diploma very soon. In the meantime, I work on an exciting project with my twin brother. During covid time we decided to launch a website to talk about wine. The goal has always been the same since the beginning: to “reshape” and redefine the way the world of wine is taught. We wanted to be educational while being entertaining. So far we have accomplished our goal as we have also launched a podcast (the voice of wine) as well as a YouTube channel… The sky’s the limit.”

What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?

“I have always considered wine a powerful way to connect with people and a fascinating liquid packed with interesting stories and anecdotes. Ancient Roman and Greek Gods as well as important philosophers celebrated wine and its incredible ability to trigger people’s creativity and give them pleasure at the same time. And how to blame them. There is more philosophy in a bottle of wine than in any other book I ever read. But wine is much more than this as it involves geography, history, science, culture and traditions. Hence I believe we must adopt a ”holistic” approach to “decode” the wine secrets and enjoy this wonderful beverage to its fullest. There is always something new to discover, and this pushes me to become a more educated human being as a result. Therefore, I think that it is the complex nature of the wine world itself which has inspired, inspires, and will keep on inspiring me for the rest of my life.”

During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising Thing You’ve Learnt?

“I truly believe that the wine industry is always changing and there will continuously be something new to learn about it. Since I started my “wine journey” I have been discovering so many interesting facts. But since we are talking about bubbles, I would say that one of the most eye-opening experiences of mine was witnessing the remarkable aging potential of Traditional Method Extra Dry Rosé sparkling wine. I have always studied that some styles of wines aren’t meant to age or won’t develop positively through the years. And I thought that an Extra Dry NV fizz was one of those styles to be enjoyed in its youth. But I recently tried an old Berlucchi Rosè Extra Dry NV that definitely proved the contrary.

The higher Dosage and the use of more Pinot Noir gave the final cuvée enough structure to gracefully age over time. I was surprised by the intense development of the Maillard reaction, the subtle fruity character, and the elegant/ lively “mousse” that the sparkling wine managed to have despite the years. I will definitely buy some more Extra Dry NV sparkling wines to taste again their “delicious” development in the future”

How Often Do You Find Yourself Recommending English Sparkling Wine?

“I always recommend English sparkling wines as I truly believe in their quality. Winemakers have improved a lot since the early 2000s, and the climatic change is still helping vine growers to obtain grapes with an appropriate level of ripeness. Besides, winemakers start to have a huge library of ”reserve wines” that they can use to craft balanced wines even in poorer vintages.

On top of this, the best English sparkling wines have a natural marketing advantage to exploit: terroir. In fact, there are a few ” keywords” to use in the world of wine to trigger the guests’ desires and needs. And Terroir is definitely one of those. I like to define the latter as the combination of natural factors (grape varieties, soil type, climate…) and human factors (viticultural practices, winemaking technique, know-how…). And if we think about it, the best English sparkling wines are made in the same soil type of champagne, from the same quintessential varieties, and with the same meticulous method. We could talk about “Methode Britannique” indeed and use marketing as a tool to invite the most skeptical people to try these gorgeous bubbles. They won’t be disappointed for sure.”

In Your Professional Opinion, Out Of Champagne And Prosecco, Which Do You Think Does A Better Job With Complementing A Meal?

“Before giving and articulating my answer, I must say that Champagne and Prosecco are very different in style. And I honestly never compare them for this very reason. However, if you think very well about it, Prosecco does a great job in terms of food and wine pairing. Simply because Prosecco covers every sweetness level, stretching from Pas Dosè to Extra Dry styles.

Although sweeter styles of Champagne exist as well, they are quite rare and command premium prices. I don’t know so many people who are willing to spend £45 (or more) for a bottle of Champagne Demi-Sec. Instead, you could easily start a dining experience with a Prosecco Pas Dosè paired with some shellfish, and keep it all going all the way to the desert with a Prosecco Dry without hurting your wallet. So for the sake of the interview, I would say that Prosecco does a better job for its remarkable versatility, which is always important when it comes to food and wine pairings.”

What Advice Would You Give Inspiring Sommeliers?

“I would invite them to be open minded. Especially those people coming from traditional wine producing regions may risk being biased by wines coming from different countries. It is not easy to grow up in Champagne and be “humble” enough to try a “Cap Classique” for instance.

Same way, it’s not easy for Italians to see that Prosecco is made in Australia as well. But we must always be open-minded and assess the wines for their quality and stylistic expressiveness. Only this way, we can fully appreciate the complex world of wine. Besides, it takes commitment and effort to produce wine, hence I’d say that we must respect the hard work of those people who spent so much time crafting their wines.”

If You Sat Down For A Quiet Dinner, What Dish And Sparkling Wine Would You Choose To Enjoy Together?

“I would choose the Anna Maria Clementi 2014 and I would pair it with toasted bread, pure “Extra Vergine” olive oil, and shaved white truffle on top of them. The base wines used to craft the prestige cuvèe of Cà Del Bosco undergoes oak fermentation, and malolactic conversion as well as a long time of lees contact before disgorgement.

These techniques allow the wine to develop a remarkable complexity: mellow aromas of vanilla from the oak mingle with hints of butter and bread crust among others. The round character of the Franciacorta is lifted by a lively, crisp freshness and a light mouthfeel as no sugar is added to the dosage. The marriage between wine and food would be sublime as the earthy nature of the white truffle would complement the struck match flavors of the sparkling wine. This will linger in an elegant and seductive aftertaste which will make you crave for another bite.”

Thank you, Alberto, for sharing your words, knowledge and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Alberto Gherardi. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.