Gearoid Devaney from Tom Aikens' Michelin-starred restaurant in London has been named the Academy of Food & Wine's UK Sommelier of the Year 2008.
Now in its 28th year, the competition, which took place last night, saw Devaney compete against other finalists Isa Bal from Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, and Cyril Thevenet of Hotel du Vin, in front of a live audience.
Tasks included blind tasting, wine and food recommendations, correcting errors on a wine list and pouring a magnum of Champagne into 16 glasses ensuring that each glass was equal, no glass was revisited, nothing was spilt and the bottle ended up empty.
Judges included Matt Wilkin, director of the Academy of Food & Wine; 2006 winner Claire Thevenot, group sommelier coach at Malmaison Group; and chief judge Gerard Basset.
Basset praised the high standard of this year's competitors.
"The competition involves the best sommeliers in the country. Standards are improving all the time as restaurants are putting more emphasis on wines and the sommeliers are expected to know far more than they ever did," he said.
Champagnes Piper-Heidsieck and Charlies Heidsieck have been announced as competition sponsors for three years from 2009.
By Kerstin Kühn
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