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Eric Zwiebel from the Summer Lodge in Evershot to represent the UK at the ASI World Sommelier Competition

Eric Zwiebel from the Summer Lodge in Evershot to represent the UK at the ASI World Sommelier Competition

Eric Zwiebel MS has been chosen to represent the UK at the ASI World Sommelier Competition in Japan next year.

Zwiebel, sommelier at Summer Lodge in Evershot, Dorset, was picked ahead of two former UK Sommeliers of the Year, Matthieu Longuere MS of La Trompette, London, and Nicolas Clerc MS from D&D London, as well as the current titleholder, Jan Konetzki of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

Commenting on the opportunity to compete on the world stage, Zwiebel said it was an honour, adding: "The selection contest was extremely tough as I was up against three fantastic sommeliers. I am delighted to have won."

The four candidates were asked to complete a written paper, a blind tasting of two wines and five spirits, and a skills test involving a food and wine matching test and a decanting task. They were then asked to identify 12 errors on a wine list.

During the decanting task, a table of diners ordered a 2005 Pétrus and a 1990 Châteaux Latour. Halfway through decanting, one of the guests said it was the white Pétrus, rather than a red, that he ordered, so the candidate had opened a £2,000 bottle of wine unnecessarily.

The best answer given was: "I'm sorry sir, but we don't list a white Pétrus here. However, the red is excellent and drinking very well. I can ask chef to do you a special dish to complement the flavours perfectly."

The competition, organised by the Academy of Food & Wine Service, was held earlier this week at Hotel TerraVina in Hampshire.

"We really put these four sommeliers through the mill and tested their skills to the limit," commented chief judge Gerard Basset OBE, MW, MS and owner of Hotel TerraVina. "Each candidate was strong in a particular area and not so in others, but we chose Eric as the candidate with the best all-round skills and Nicolas Clerc as the runner-up."

By Janie Manzoori-Stamford

E-mail your comments to Janie Manzoori-Stamford here.

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