Interview With A Sommelier – Alexander Preston

5th July 2023

Interview With A Sommelier Alexander Preston

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 Alexander Preston. Now let’s find out a bit about his life as a Sommelier.

Tell Us About Yourself

“I have worked in the hospitality trade since I was 14, helping my mother during the summer holidays. I never liked being in a classroom, so I went down a vocational route for hospitality. I worked in a few different spots before taking up a position at Isaac At with our English-only winelist in 2016.”

What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?

“Looking back, I was always a stone’s throw from Sussex vineyards, hidden just out of sight. I grew up just over the hill from Breaky Bottom and cycled past many of the upstarts of the naughties. I still remember my dad pointing out the “hops” growing in the fields around Bodium Castle; it was nice to be able to correct him on something years later. Being a sommelier was less inspiration and more natural progression in my life. The opportunities in front of me led me down the path to where I am today.”

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

“The most surprising thing put me where I am now; just how much wine we produce in the UK and the diversity of varietals. My WSET had me thinking the only thing of note the UK made for wine was Sparklings (though this was in 2015), and it’s a strange feeling coming into a list that I didn’t even know how to pronounce the varietals!”

How Often Do You Find Yourself Recommending English Sparkling Wine?

“Every single service. From brioche to shortbread and tart to nuttiness, we have a lot of fun exploring options and being English only means it’s also a no-brainer.”

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

“While I’d always lean towards an English Sparkling personally; It boils (or well ferments) down to what you’re eating, what time of year and even how someone’s feeling. There has always been a long debate between Charmat and Traditional Method production, but they complement and make up for each other’s shortcomings; Give me something with big bubbles and juicy in the summer with some fresh fruits, and let’s mull over a richer toasty sparkling in the colder months and a rich cream sauce.”

What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Sommeliers?

“I think the first thing I’d say is that “we all say something different, and no great movement wasn’t at least borrowed from something else” Picking wines, regardless of what anyone says, will always be your opinion influenced by the person selling you something.
-Does it Taste good?
-Can the Margins work for you?
-Does it have a good story?
Any one of the three can put it on your list, two, and you’ve found something special.
All three? Now you’re talking!”

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

“Quiet nights always mean you bring the big bottles out and have some fun. 2013 English Blanc de Noir have a special place for me, so perhaps something from my cellar, a quick stop past a fishmonger to grab whatever they say is excellent at the moment and whatever an “unhealthy” amount of butter is.”

Thank you, Alexander, 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 Alexander Preston. 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.