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First women winners of the Sommelier of the Year 2017

New Zealand Sommeliers and Wine Professionals
First women winners of the Sommelier of the Year 2017

Two women won titles in Auckland on Sunday night in a field that has traditionally been a male domain – the Sommelier of the Year and Junior Sommelier of the Year competition.

The annual competition is held at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine in Auckland and run by school founder Celia Hay in collaboration with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas.

The competition is open to entrants from throughout the country and has seen New Zealand Sommelier winners travel to visit Champagne Louis Roederer in France and for the Junior Sommelier winners to visit Central Otago hosted by Misha’s Vineyard.

“This award recognises the vital role played by the hospitality professional as part of the dining experience and serves to inspire others to look beyond the traditional roles of chef and server.

“At this level a sommelier must have developed an exceptional palate and comprehensive knowledge of beverages. While wine styles, grape varieties and regions are important, a sommelier must also be knowledgeable about cocktails, spirit brands, beer and Japanese sake as well as tea and coffee. A sommelier must also have excellent communication skills, ” says Hay.

Stephanie Guth, who won Sommelier of the Year 2017 said she was humbled to win the top prize but also by the process itself, which included tasting six wines, all with their identities concealed, opening Champagne for the judges and an audience, pouring the Champagne in to eight glasses while answering questions about different beverages.

“Blind tasting is always a very humbling experience,” says Guth, who works as the sommelier and runs the beverage programme at The French Café in Auckland. Raised in Canada, Stephanie trained first as a chef and five years ago made the transition to the front of house. Stephanie is part of the global growth in women pursing this career path.

Amelia French, from the George Hotel in Christchurch won the Junior Sommelier of the Year competition.


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