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Top NZ Wine Waiters Compete For France

New Zealand’s finest wine waiters are about to face testing times...

Matua Valley, in association with Moet & Chandon, The Heritage and Qantas, is this week launching a nationwide search of hotels, bars and cafes, in a bid to uncover New Zealand’s top performer.

From thousands of potential candidates, New Zealand’s leading wine waiters will be tested on their knowledge of wine, as well as their communications skills with customers.

The competition has been launched by Matua Valley Wines to highlight the wine waiter’s increasingly important role in promoting New Zealand food, wine and hospitality.

Organisers are inviting entries from all restaurant, café and hotel staff currently working in the hospitality industry. The eventual winner – to be named Sommelier of the Year - will be flown to France to toast some of the world’s best.

Matua Valley Wines Managing Director Bill Spence says restaurant waiting staff play a critical role in the hospitality industry.

Mr Spence says the Sommelier is an important source of information on food and wine matching, as well as wine styles and evaluation. This is particularly important for overseas visitors.

“Tourism is now the shop window for some of New Zealand’s most prestigious exports including food and wine,” says Mr Spence.

“The increasing demands placed on the hospitality industry, particularly in Auckland and other main centres, reinforce the need for professional service staff. Sommelier 2000 will recognise excellence in this area. The event will educate and reward at the same time.”

Wine critic and competition director Keith Stewart says the event will establish professional standards of service in the hospitality industry.

“Sommelier of the Year is set to become one of the key events on the hospitality industry calendar,” he says.

“The competition will reward knowledge and good service as well as skilled conversation.

“Sommeliers should not just be able to taste and assess wine, they must be able to pass on their opinions in a helpful, unpretentious and constructive manner.”

The Sommelier

Sommelier is the French term for a specialist wine waiter and is commonly used within the New Zealand hospitality trade.

The Sommelier usually manages the service of wine in the restaurant, including wine lists, ordering cellaring and training of staff.

The Competition

Entry forms are now being distributed within the industry, and are available from Matua Valley Wines Limited.

All competitors will complete an extensive written questionnaire. Semi-finalists will be selected and interviewed and judged at their place of work.

Finalists will be flown to Auckland for a full service lunch performance before a panel of judges on August the 23rd.

The winning Sommelier will receive a return trip for two to France. The trip will include time spent with Moet & Chandon in Epernay – France’s Champagne capital.


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