The Academy of Food & Wine has launched its search for the 2009 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 Champagnes Piper-Heidsieck & Charles Heidsieck, the UK Sommelier of the Year competition consists of four rounds including a paper judging followed by five regional finals, which will be held in February.
Fifteen of the top placed regional finalists will qualify for the semi-finals, which will take place at London's Tate Modern on 29 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.
The 2008 UK Sommelier of the Year was Gearoid Devaney, head sommelier at the Michelin-starred Tom Aikens in London, who said: "This competition recognises our hard work and dedication and also shows what a great career it can be. I am honoured to have been Sommelier of the Year and would urge anyone to enter. You can learn so much."
Employers can nominate a member of their team by downloading an entry form from www.acfws.org or by calling the Academy on 020 8661 4646. The closing date for entries is 5 December.
By Kerstin Kühn
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