Next month’s Meilleur Sommelier du Monde competition is notable not just because it is the event’s 50th anniversary, but also because it will feature a brand-new award – one that rewards personality rather than wine knowledge or technical prowess.
In addition to the usual blind tasting and service tests used to determine the world’s top sommelier, the Somm-Est award will be given to the most likable, human and charming competitor.
The award is the brainchild of competition sponsor and Italian wine producer Zonin1821. Rather than being selected by the competition’s judges, the winner will be decided by a vote from the 67 competitors at Meilleur Sommelier du Monde.
‘We are looking for a sommelier that, on top of being an expert and a cultured person, is particularly elegant, unobtrusive, humorous, empathetic and extremely sociable,’ a spokesman for Zonin told Imbibe.
‘The Somm-Est award reflects Zonin1821’s idea that a sommelier is above all a charismatic, communicative and resourceful person, able to trigger emotions, with a broad knowledge of the wine world gained through hard work and sacrifice and ready to be shared with others.’
The Meilleur Sommelier du Monde competition is run by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale and will take place at the Elizabeth Centre in Antwerp, Belgium, from 10-15 March.