Friday, April 16, 2010

World’s Best Sommelier Competition

51 candidates from around the world competed for the title of "World’s Best Sommelier" in Santiago this week. The Association de la Sommellerie Internationale organizes the competition, which takes place every 3 years.

12 contestants get through to the semi-finals by passing several tests. One test is a timed written paper, completed in a language than their own, that encompasses all aspects of sommeliers' work including beer, spirits, tea, coffee, cigars and water as well as wine. The semi-finals are more written and practical tests.

Then four finalists complete organoleptic analysis of wines, writing analytic descriptions, followed by recognition of several drinks other than wine. After that is the practical service section, with a service simulation requiring food and wine pairings, wine decanting, and correcting errors in a wine list. The jury evaluates not only the contestants' wine knowledge but also stylishness of the service, as well as their knowledge of foreign languages. Wow.

The winner? Gerard Basset, 52, who represented the United Kingdom. Gerard Basset is a Master Sommelier and a Master of Wine (no walk in the park getting that either). He owns the Hotel TerraVina in Hampshire. This was his 6th time in the competition and the 4th time in the finals. He spent 90 minutes a day for the past 18 months preparing for this week. Basset described it as the toughest thing he’s ever done.

This week was notable in that 4 women made it through to the semi-finals. Two were from Canada: Elyse Lambert and Véronique Rivest. Véronique received the Peter Lehman Shiraz award as a promising young sommelier and I can only hope that this award is an incentive for her to enter the next world competition in 3 years. Véronique was the guest speaker at my Sommelier graduation dinner last October, so it was great to see her get through. Congratulations to Gerald Basset and Bravo! to Véronique and Elyse.

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  1. Are you going to participate next time?

  2. It's on my "to do" list...right after "become neurosurgeon"