Twelve candidates have been selected to compete in the 2023 Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year (SOTY) finals, following a tense round of regional heats held on 2 May. Over 30 applicants were selected for a day of assessments at the Hilton London Metropole hotel on Edgware Road. During the regional finals, candidates had to complete a written paper, a blind tasting and several practical service tasks, such as recommending wines to guests and seamlessly pouring champagne into a set of glasses.
The 2023 Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year finalists are:
The finalists will be invited to a preliminary semi-final at Berry Bros. & Rudd in London’s St James’s, on 12 June, which will be followed by a trip to Taittinger’s cellars in Reims, France, on 19 June.
Kevin McKee, UK director for headline sponsor Champagne Taittinger, said: “With the trade very much still in recovery mode it’s about enhancing the guest experience as much as possible.
“In this role the seasoned sommelier is vital to guide the guest and recommend as appropriate. To see these weavers of stories and experience test their skills among their peers was a real treat. Every single candidate who entered is to be praised for wanting to be the best in their chosen craft.
“This year’s competition final is going to be a real battle of nerves on the day as there is no easy pick winner among the entries, all are at the top of their game once again. Skill levels are just incredible and as we have always said the UK has some of the best talent the world can offer with wine lists of such depth and range that it attracts the very best in the industry.”
He added: “This year we hope to host all 12 finalists at Taittinger in Reims ahead of the final to pass on some specific Champagne knowledge to aid in their ultimate success.”