Proud French sommeliers might want to look away now, because Antwerp has pipped Bordeaux to be announced as the host city for the 15th Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) Meilleur Sommelier du Monde Competition.
The most prestigious of all sommelier competitions, the Sommelier du Monde pits the best in the world against each other over four high-stress days that test not just wine knowledge but also service techniques and inter-personal skills.
‘Today the job involves much more than just pouring wine,’ said William Wouters, president of the Belgian Sommeliers Guild which will help to organise the competition. ‘Not only does a sommelier dispense a broad knowledge of the ever dynamic wine industry, but also other drinks such as beer, spirits, water, coffee, saké, etc. They also need to have an eye for human interactions [and] have a broad social intelligence.’
With the 65 best candidates from Asia/Oceania, Europe, Africa and the Americas all taking part, it’s no surprise that the roll-call of past winners reads like a who’s who of sommeliering.
It’s the first time that the global final has been held in Europe since Andreas Larsson won in Rhodes in 2007, and the first time that Belgium has hosted since Brussels in 1983.
The competition will be held from 11-15 March in the Elizabethzaal in Antwerp, but tickets are extremely limited. Only 2,000 are available, so the organisers will be showing the competition on a big screen, and live-streaming it online.