Erik Simonics, sommelier at The Savoy in London (pictured right), was announced yesterday as the UK winner of the Wines of South Africa Sommelier Cup.
The competition consisted of a written exam, a blind tasting of three wines, and an interview with judges Ronan Sayburn MS and Greg Sherwood MW.
This year, 29 sommeliers entered the UK leg of the triennal competition, with the runner ups being The Ledbury's Yoel Abarbanel and Dorian Guillon, from Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.
Simonics will head to South Africa to represent the UK at the global final on 23 September, enjoying visits, tastings and dinners ahead of the contest.
'I'm extremely happy to win such a prestigious competition and I'm really looking forward to competing against the other finalists from around the world in South Africa,' he said. 'I will do my very best to win it and share my experiences with other sommeliers to motivate them to participate in the future. Finally, well done to all sommeliers participating this year, they were absolutely fantastic.'
Jo Wehring, UK market manager for Wines of South Africa, added: 'This was a tough competition to win, the standard was extremely high and we were very impressed with the knowledge and ability of the participants. Erik achieved high scores in all aspects of the competition and is a well-deserved winner. We wish him all the best for the next stage.'