Now in its 35th year, the competition is calling on wine waiters and sommeliers from all sectors of the industry to enter.
It gives participants the opportunity to broaden their experience, improve their wine and beverage service education, and network with those at the top of the profession.
AFWS executive director John Croft said: “Entering this competition is more about the experience and learning opportunity than it is about getting through to the final.
“Many of our competitors come back year after year, getting a little further each time. Without fail, they all say it is an enjoyable experience as well as a valuable part of their professional development and training.”
This is the third year that Moët & Chandon has sponsored the competition, and the first time the champagne house will take the 12 semi-finalists to its cellars in Epernay for an in-depth tour and tasting of past vintages with chef de cave Benoît Gouez.
Moët & Chandon marketing director Elsa Corbineau added: “Education and networking are key to the competition, and also something that we value very highly at Moët & Chandon. We take our role as partner very seriously and believe that we can enhance the learning and experience that every entrant – no matter how far they get – takes away with them.”
Anyone interested in entering needs to complete an initial entry form after which they will be sent a first-round questionnaire. Those scoring the highest on the questionnaire will be invited to one of five regional finals in Bristol, Edinburgh, Stafford, Tunbridge Wells and London on May 6.
From the regional finals, 12 people will be selected for the London semi-final on June 12. After a morning of tasks, the semi-finalists will eventually be whittled down to just three sommeliers who will contest the title.
The final will be held the same day in front of an invited audience of industry guests with the name of the winner and runner-up announced at a champagne reception afterwards.
Competitors will be tested on their wine and drink expertise, service skills and glassware knowledge in tasks that include a blind tasting, spotting errors on a wine list, a restaurant role-play scenario, and a champagne pour challenge.
As well as various educational trips for the winner and runner-up, all six finalists will be given 12 months’ free membership of The Wine Guild of the United Kingdom, including an invitation to its annual winter banquet held at Vintners’ Hall in London, the historic home of the UK’s wine trade.
The AFWS is affiliated to Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI), with the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year competition forming part of the UK selection process for the ASI’s Best Sommelier of the World and Best Sommelier of Europe competitions.
Entry forms can be downloaded from www.sommelieroftheyear.co.uk or by calling Daniel Moriss-Jeffery on 01276 417 882 or emailing Daniel@afws.co.uk.
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