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Lizzie Mellish

14 May 2024

Meet Elizabeth (Lizzie) Mellish, the vibrant force behind the exquisite wine selection at The Spence. Her curiosity for wine sparked during a family trip to France, evolving into a career that seamlessly blends her love for travel and exploration with the curiosity of how wine goes from branch to bottle. Join us as Lizzie shares insights, favourites, and tips for aspiring sommeliers.

Hi Lizzie, tell us, how did you become a sommelier?

I fell in love with wine on a family holiday to France. At first, I was fascinated by the wine labels, but it wasn’t until later when I landed my first job in hospitality that I pursued wine as a potential career. During my time at university, I was fortunate to receive an internship offer as a sommelier at a luxury hotel. After completing my degree in Hotel Management, I was invited back to take on a full-time position.

What do you love most about your role?

I love the variety of my role. I get the chance to taste some amazing wines and learn about different regions and styles. Additionally, I get to create fantastic experiences for our guests. This includes helping them find a wine that complements their meal or introducing them to something new that they love. It’s fulfilling to see our guests smile and enjoy their time at Townhouse.

Do you have a favourite wine that we serve in The Spence?

It is difficult to choose only one wine, but I am particularly fond of the producer, Blank Bottle. They have an interesting philosophy of not revealing the exact grape varieties used in their blends, which helps to remove any negative associations that some people may have with certain varieties. Their wines are fantastic and are sure to spark stimulating conversation at any dinner. The Le Caillou Rouge is a delicious wine with an interesting story behind it. The Clos du Caillou Winery in the Rhone region was left out of the Chateauneufdu-Pape appellation, so this wine is simply labelled as a Cotes du Rhone. It is a wine with an elegant taste and plenty of character. Another beautiful bottle is The Pansa Blanca from Alta Alella. Just 30 minutes from Barcelona’s city centre is a small wine region called Alella. Alta Alella winery farms organically and produces a range of delicious wines including their 100% Pansa Blanca. A sipable alternative to Sauvignon Blanc this crisp dry white wine is packed with flavours of apple, and lime, with a salty almond note.

Any new developments in the industry that you’re excited about?

It’s an exciting time for the English wine industry as it continues to grow with new vineyards and wineries popping up all over the country. The quality of English wine is impressive, especially the sparkling wine, making it an exciting time to taste, visit vineyards and follow this growing region. I was very excited to find that Charles Palmer’s wines are available through one of my suppliers. They are a family-run vineyard and winery in Sussex with beautiful views over the English Channel and are making some fabulous sparkling and still wines!

Any insights for those who want to broaden their knowledge of wine?

Try as many different wines as you can but do so in a sensible manner. The more wine varieties you taste, the more you will learn. It’s important to keep exploring, so why not visit your local supermarket or wine shop and pick up a bottle of wine that you’re not familiar with? Additionally, there are many resources available to learn about wine. For example, following wine enthusiasts on Instagram can be a great way to stay up to date on the latest trends and news in the industry. Melania Battiston [@mela_batti] is a brilliant young sommelier whom I have had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times in London. She is incredibly knowledgeable, and her Instagram features many short videos providing wine tips and educational bits. Jimmy Smith [@winewithjimmy] is a wine educator based in London, with his own website and podcast that are great for learning more about the wine world. Finally, Lucas Reynaud-Paligot [@lucas_wine_uk] is the Assistant Head sommelier at the three Michelin star restaurant at The Connaught. He shares his wine journey on Instagram and gives some fantastic history and tasting notes about a variety of wines.

And finally, any top tips for budding sommeliers?

The key to becoming knowledgeable about wine is tasting, tasting, and more tasting! It’s important to try different types of wines, from various regions and vintages, so that you can develop your palate. Take notes of the wine’s aroma, flavour, and finish, as this will help you remember what you’ve learned and keep track of your progress. Additionally, you can read books, take courses, and fully immerse yourself in the world of wine. Becoming a sommelier is a full-time job, and there is always more to learn.


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