Laura Rhys from Gerard Basset's Hotel TerraVina in Southampton has been named as the Academy of Food & Wine's UK Sommelier of the Year 2009.
Now in its 29th year, the competition saw Rhys compete against Yohann Jousselin from the Hotel du Vin Bistro in Winchester, and Christopher Delalonde of London's two-Michelin-starred The Square in front of a live audience at London's Tate Modern yesterday (29 April).
Tasks included blind tasting, wine and food recommendations and correcting errors on a wine list. Finalists also had to pour 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; 2008 winner Gearoid Devaney sommelier at Tom Aikens' Michelin-starred restaurant in London; and food writer Tom Parker-Bowles.
Wilkin said the judges struggled to choose a winner from the three finalists. "All are professionals at the top of their game and handled the pressure of the competition admirably - the industry should be proud of this level of achievement," he said.
Sophie Roberts-Brown, executive director of the Academy of Food & Wine, added: "It's easy to overlook the value of a well trained bar person or sommelier but they are a real asset to any establishment."
The Sommelier of the Year competition is sponsored by Champagnes Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck.
As the winner Rhys has been awarded a trip to Champagne in France including a private tour of Champagne Piper-Heidsieck & Charles Heidsieck as well as two nights at the three-Michelin-starred Château Les Crayères, Reims.
Watch the video
By Kerstin Kühn
E-mail your comments to Kerstin Kühn here.
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs