The hunt is on for the Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year 2020, as entries open for the awards that recognise the very finest talent in wine service.
Organised by The Caterer, in partnership with the Academy of Food and Wine Service, the competition is open to professional sommeliers and waiting staff working in the UK.
The Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year award is widely regarded as the premier accolade in UK wine service. Past winners number some of the industry's leading lights when it comes to wine knowledge, including the late Gerard Basset, Ronan Sayburn and Xavier Rousset.
Candidates are judged on their wine and drink expertise as well as their ability to deal efficiently and knowledgeably with customers by demonstrating exemplary front of house skills.
Last year the Vineyard at Stockcross head sommelier Romain Bourger took the title at his sixth attempt at the competition, impressing the judges with his calm and knowledgeable performance on stage at the live final.
Entries are paper-based, before nationwide regional heats in Manchester, Bristol and London on 24 April. The closing date for entries is 9 March.
The 12 successful candidates from the regional finals will be invited to Taittinger in Reims, France, on 22 and 23 June, where they will learn about the iconic Champagne house and attend a workshop where they will gain knowledge and skills crucial to their progress in the competition.
Family Taittinger UK director Kevin McKee said: "Champagne Taittinger is thrilled to continue its headline sponsorship of the UK Sommelier of the Year competition for the third year. This competition sets the standard for the UK industry in terms of wine service.
"At Taittinger we're passionate about supporting the development of young professionals both in the kitchen with our international cooking competition ‘Le Taittinger', and front of house through the highly respected UK Sommelier of the Year which promotes exacting and high standards of service among sommeliers.
"We wish all applicants the best of luck for 2020 and the Taittinger family look forward to hosting the 12 finalists in Champagne in June as part of the competition."
How to enter
To enter the UK Sommelier of the Year, visit uksommelieroftheyear.com and answer in no more than 200 words why you are a sommelier, what your greatest wine experience has been to date and what winning would mean to you. This needs to be accompanied by a CV and nomination from your current employer by 9 March 2020.
Those that are successful will be invited to regional heats taking place in Manchester, Bristol and London on 24 April 2020.