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Moët UK Sommelier of the Year gets tough on entrants

Published:  08 May, 2012

Organisers of the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year competition 2012 have taken a tougher stance with this year's entrants in order to bring it in line with its European counterpart.

For the first time the winner of the 2012 competition will automatically go through to the European Sommelier of the Year competition, organised by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, which new UK sponsor Moët & Chandon has partnered since 1989.

Organisers said there was a "particularly tough round" of regional finals held in London, Tunbridge Wells, Bristol and Manchester, where 60 competitors were whittled down to 12 through blind tasting, a knowledge questionnaire, a service skills test and a Champagne pour.

Sophie Roberts-Brown, executive director of the Academy of Food & Wine Service, said: "The role of the sommelier has changed over the years - no longer is their expertise limited to wines, but to Champagne, beer and aperitifs, too. They have to know about the entire range of drinks on offer at a restaurant, know how to serve them and what to serve them with.

"Front-of-house skills - the ability to relate and read the customer - and the ability to upsell, but in an appropriate, sensitive way, are also becoming more vital and it's important the competition moves in line with these demands."

Roberts-Brown added that this year's winner will have the opportunity to qualify for the European and, potentially, the World Sommelier Championships.

"It made sense, therefore, to raise the level of our own competition to match these two events, so that competing on the world stage is of a similar standard to the UK competition," she said.

The finalists this year - who will battle it out at the live final at London International Wine Fair on May 23 - are as follows:

Loic Avril, The Fat Duck, Bray
Arnaud Bardary, Maze Gordon Ramsay, London W1
Tobias Brauweiler, Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham
Remi Cousin, The Fat Duck, Bray
Sergio Dos Santos, Atlantic Hotel, Jersey
Bavand Foroughi, Savoy Grill, London WC2
Lukasz Kolodziejczyk, The Fat Duck, Bray
Jan Konetzki, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London SW3
Katherine Larsen, Orrery, London W1
Stephen Raducki, Hotel du Vin, Winchester
Laurent Richet, Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
Clement Robert, Medlar Restaurant, London SW1