It was the Singapore Best Sommelier in French Wines 2015 competition and local sommeliers came to prove their mettle. This event held on 9 Sep 2015 (at Raffles Hotel) was organized by Sopexa.
The preliminary round saw 10 contestants taking part in the trials. Four were selected to compete in the final round. They were: Alan Kok Koong Au (from Iggys), Alvin Goh (from MBS), Inthran Ramasamy (from Mandarin Oriental) and Jacques Chua Shu Hui (from 1855 The Bottle Shop).
Judges called upon to assess these contestants were:
Jean-Pascal Paubert, MS
Yohann Jousselin, MS
Tan Ying Hsien, MW
Cecilia Goh, and
Khean Hooi Goh
Witnessed by a roomful of fellow members from the local wine industry, the finalists were assessed on the following :
- Opening and serving sparkling wine.
- Aperitif service.
- Decanting and serving red wine.
- Identifying wine in a blind tasting format.
- Identifying flaws in a wine list and correcting them.
Seeing these contestants compete, one has to realize that it is one thing having some wine knowledge to cope with the weekly indulgence of drinking wines with friends and discussing what the wine in the glass reveals; but it is totally a different ball game having to handle wine service while at the same time holding a conversation with wine judges and promptly answering their calculated queries. You need knowledge and skill, but more than that, a degree of confidence, flair and suave factor to do the ‘sommelier dance’ around the table of judges and impress them... not forgetting the roomful of industry folks who quietly watch your every move and listen to every word uttered.
After a rigorous afternoon, the winners were announced as follows:
- Alvin Goh (winner), Marina Bay Sands
- Alan Kok Hoong Au (1st runner-up), Iggys
- Jacques Chua Shu Hui (finalist), 1855 The Bottle Shop
- Inthran Ramasamy (finalist), Mandarin Oriental
Prior to announcing the winners , the judges in their comments highlighted that the contestants showed good knowledge and enthusiasm but will have to take note on being calm (keeping their cool) and to work within the allotted time for each task. Another point which was highlighted was on the need to listen carefully to the instructions given so that contestants take note of what exactly is required of them (and not waste time on things which does not gain them points).
The winner Alvin Goh and runner-up Alan Au will go on to attend a similar competition on 9 Dec 2015 in Kuala Lumpur; this time held at the Asian level. Its called the Asia Best Sommelier Competition in French Wines 2015. Other countries participating in this competition will be Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea (and Macao to be confirmed).
Needless to say, they have the wishes of the local wine industry folks for the upcoming competition!
Pictures of this competition can be viewed via this link:
Photos of the Singapore Best Sommelier in French Wines 2015