Registration Opens

1 May 2024


24 & 25 March 2025

Winners Announcement

22 April 2025

  • Enter Now


LWC blog

Photo for:




Photo for:




Photo for:




Photo for: To Not Living Life Like a Rehearsal


To Not Living Life Like a Rehearsal

A guest once told him that this life is not a rehearsal and Alexios Stasinopoulos keeps those words in mind to embrace challenge and change, rather than fear them.

Where do you currently work?

Grove of Narberth.

Tell us more about yourself.

Coming from Greece, where enjoying life means sharing our time with friends over a table full of good food and wine, I have seen my passion become my profession within the UK Hospitality; something which one can only feel grateful for. At the moment blessed to be leading the beverage operation of one of the most dynamic hotels in the UK.


Why did you want to become a sommelier?

In the beginning, it was just because I wanted to learn everything about wine and hopefully grow within the industry.

But as I have been developing my presence in the business, I understand that its people (guests, colleagues, suppliers) are indeed the most important part of it, which makes me wake up every day and still want to be a Sommelier.

Wine is a wonderful thing, and its knowledge is one of the most powerful means of getting people together!

How according to you has the role of the sommelier evolved, especially now during Covid times?

I think that finally hotels and restaurants have started to understand the role and value of a good Sommelier in their ranks.

We are not seen as "luxury" staff anymore, but as people that can manage every aspect of every guest's dining experience, at the same time as managing our complex side of the business, including stock purchasing and pricing, profitability, staff training, etc.

Alexios Stasinopoulos

"The proof is that more and more casual dining restaurants are now recruiting Sommeliers and giving them the power, responsibility, and appreciation that they need in order to help their business thrive." - Alexios Stasinopoulos

The time of the penguin-dressed, snubby wine waiter in the corner of the dining room, waiting to pass the 100-page list to their terrified guests, has thankfully gone.

What are some of the most important skills for a sommelier to have?

Humility, knowledge of our guests, never-ending curiosity, passion to decant our knowledge and experience to our guests and colleagues, financial acumen.

Then come the technical parts: speed, cleanliness, back-of-house organising, etc.

What do you look for when you plan to buy wine for your business?

Firstly to be relevant to our market and our Chefs' food offering; e.g. a vertical of Cheval Blanc is always amazing, but how relevant would it be in a small seafood restaurant in Cornwall?

Then of course keep our guests and colleagues interested by regularly presenting new discoveries to the list.

Other technical aspects are also important; stock availability and consistency, price consistency, closures for fast-moving by-the-glass wines (screw cap or glass tops preferred), etc.

Your favorite places to enjoy great wine in London?

Oh, everywhere!

Andrew Edmunds in Soho, however, play on a league of their own, as well as The Kensington Wine Rooms are always great fun!!

What is your approach to matching food and wine?

I find that the perception of aromas in drinks is always more subjective than the perception of textures.

Therefore, I always look primarily to match elements like acidity (malic or lactic-high or medium), residual sugars, tannin against protein etc, so then the flavours can work with each other effortlessly.

Of course, the classics are there for a reason, but we can always play a bit with them; we know for example that Stilton is fantastic with Sauternes - but why should we not try it with a botrytised Semillon from Australia?

If you had to pick one red and one white wine as your personal best, which wines would they be?

Tough one... Schloss Gobelsburg's "Lamm" Grüner Veltliner for white; Felton Road's "Calvert" Pinot Noir for red. You choose the vintages, I will be happy with any of them!!

What's the best part of your job?

Getting to make people happy and create memories for their future!

What are 5 challenges you normally face in your job and how do you tackle them?

Inconsistency of business volumes-seasonality: as everyone knows, one minute the restaurant is quiet and the next minute you are dealing with 8 tables arriving simultaneously. This can only be dealt with good team training and thorough pre-service briefings.

Inconsistency of stock with suppliers: always make sure that we are stocked well enough for the occasional 2-week draught of Prosecco from our supplier, as well as keep good relationships with alternative sources.

Guests not knowing what they want: in this case I always offer sample tastes of different options, though always in a way that gives them all the time and initiative they need to decide.

Staffing: no surprises here. The only way to keep a substantial Sommelier team nowadays, is to keep everybody engaged and happy within their role. Then the word will travel that the X establishment takes care of its people and develops them, and more people will want to join the team.

Impromptu menu changes: the flip side of the otherwise joyful position to be working with fresh food; menus can change from lunch to dinner time and the only way to deal with these changes is to have a great understanding of our Chefs' repertoire and high minimum stocks of certain wines in our cellars, ready to be opened for such occasions.

Any favorite food and wine pairing suggestions for London drinks enthusiasts?

Everyone has their own preferences, so this is personal to everybody.

My only suggestion would be "tell your Sommelier what you like and let them work their magic!".

Any tips for wine brands trying to grow in on-trade and how they can help sommeliers?

Not much more than what they do now, really. We are blessed to work in a very sommelier-friendly environment, as far as brands and merchants are concerned.

But if I was to ask for a bit more generosity from them, that would be more tastings outside of London and more sponsorships for staff training.

Explain your weekly tasks, please go into detail about what you do.

Well, the week actually starts on Saturday, when I place the orders based on the weekly forecast.

Then from Monday onwards, I welcome the team to work, find an appropriate time for staff training (theory quizzes, blind tasting etc.) at least twice a week, update the wine list every end of the day, take part in management daily morning briefings.

Midweek and once all deliveries are in, finalise the week's invoicing and arrange returns as and when needed.

Receive any last-minute day-off requests and confirm next week's rota by Wednesday.

Every Tuesday confirm the week's tasting menu with our Chef.

And of course much more, which comes with the ever-changing nature of our business.

What's your personal career goal? And how are you investing or planning to get there?

I am currently enjoying my role at the Grove and taking every day as it comes.

Of course, if in five years from now I am leading the beverage operations of a group, or even have my own little wine bar, that is to be discovered.

Give us one good story that you remember of a customer and you.

Some years ago, when I was still working in Greece, I was serving a British gentleman with his partner.

I was still quite young and enthusiastic, but also inexperienced, so my guests were really enjoying my service.

As it usually happens, we engaged in a casual conversation, which however ended up with me saying that I would love to move to the UK, but was afraid of the unknown.

Then the gentleman said the most correct thing I have ever been told in my life: "This (life) is not a rehearsal".

Since then I have kept his words and learned how to embrace challenge and change, rather than fear them.

Call for domestic and international submission is now open for London Wine Competition. Enter your wines before 31 August 2024 to get super early bird pricing. Register now and ship later to save.

Key Dates