The Academy of Food & Wine (AFW) has launched its search for the 2010 UK Sommelier of the Year.
The organisation is inviting hospitality employers to nominate members of staff to the competition, which rewards sommeliers' knowledge of wine, understanding of the restaurant business and ability to cope under pressure.
Sponsored by Champagne Piper-Heidsieck, the UK Sommelier of the Year competition consists of four rounds including a paper judging followed by five regional finals.
Fifteen of the top placed regional finalists will qualify for the semi-finals, which will take place in London next April, with the three top sommeliers then competing in the final on the same day.
The competition's panel of judges will be headed by the Academy's technical director Gerard Basset, proprietor of Hotel TerraVina in Hampshire.
Nick Scade, chairman of the Academy said: "The status of the UK, and in particular London, as an international centre for business and tourism means that hotels, bars and restaurants need knowledgeable, highly qualified sommeliers to provide a first class service to visitors.
"With the Olympics in 2012 we need to demonstrate to the wider world that we are a nation which offers great service - entering this competition is a great way of doing that."
Employers can nominate a member of their team by downloading an entry form from the AFW or by calling the Academy on 020 8661 4646. The closing date for entries is 11 December 2009.
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By Kerstin Kühn
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