`Sommelier`, it’s a wonderful word and so much better than `wine taster`, there`s something rather grand and majestic about it. And why shouldn`t there be a professional term for this wonderful craft?
Where would we be in a sea of perplexing Pinots and baffling Burgundies? We`d be risking `fine dining faux-pas`, marrying the wrong vintage to the wrong dish, wasting our money and disappointing our palettes.
This is precisely why Piper Heidsieck, sponsor the UK Sommelier of the Year Awards, working alongside the Academy of Food and Wine ensure that talented sommelier`s are given they recognition they deserve.
Last week saw the annual ceremony take place in a plush hotel just off Knightsbridge, where drinks industry heavies rubbed shoulders alongside young upcoming talent, each individual cherry-picked from around the UK.
A night of celebration centred around a champagne dinner. The three finalists battling for the Sommelier title had already completed an afternoon of practical tests in front of an audience including food & wine matching as well as blind tasting.
I watched as the nervous young men mounted the stage, worn out from the days trial and ready to just kick back and relax. It was a close call, the winner was Yohann Jousselin of The Vineyard Stockcross and judging by the enthusiastic cheers sounding out from the back of the room it was a much deserved reward.
The rest of us were able to tuck in to a fantastic dinner and toast each dish with a different Piper vintage.
Craft, tradition and contemporary culture were at once present, the complex blends behind the 1785 house`s champagnes seemed surprisingly at home around a table of young professionals. And no doubt for the finalists, despite their finely tuned taste buds, each glass much have seemed deliciously sweet as they drank late into the night…..
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