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UK Ruinart Sommelier Challenge opens for entries

Published:  17 January, 2020

The UK edition of the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, now in its fifth year, has opened for entries.

The entry deadline for the seminar and competition is 13 February, following which UK judges Frédéric Panaïotis, Ronan Sayburn MS and Jitka Auermüllerová will select 30 finalists to take part in the blind tasting and seminar on Monday 24 February in central London.

Over the last decade, 88 editions of the competition have been run across 18 cities in 12 different countries, attracting over 1,700 up-and-coming Sommeliers.

A winner is selected at each edition by a panel of judges, and the prize is a four-day educational tour of the Champagne region hosted by Panaïotis. 

Created by Ruinart’s Chef de Caves Frédéric Panaïotis, the initiative was launched first in the US as a training and mentoring programme to support Sommelier education, with the blind tasting component of each competition day aimed at challenging participants on their tasting skills and abilities to communicate on their findings.

The accompanying seminar is a “deep and detailed” dive into a winemaking subject of Panaïotis’ choice; past topics have included ‘Phys Behind The Fizz’, ‘Rosé in the making’ and ‘Oxidation versus Reduction’. 

“When we first launched the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, our ambition was to bring to sommeliers the kind of technical knowledge which can’t be easily found in books, on the internet or at classic wine tastings.

“This Challenge was meant to select the greatest talents, but also to help educating, developing and promoting the wine community. We also wanted to bring a unique experience and create a human adventure, unforgettable as much as aspirational, for the winners.  After 10 years, from only one country in 2010 to now 13 in 2020, we’ve managed to build a fantastic community of sommeliers,” said Panaïotis.

Past UK winners include Gareth Ferreira (2016), Julia Sewell (2017), Tony Lecuroux (2018) and Jitka Auermüllerová (2019).

"I learnt so much during the winners’ trip, and was privileged to be able to do so in the company of some truly talented people from around the world.  The whole experience was a unique opportunity, from beginning to end,” said Auermüllerová. 

Japan joins the programme for the first time in 2020, with sessions in Tokyo and Osaka.