Raise a toast to the first women winners – sommeliers

Two women won titles in Auckland this week in a field that has traditionally been a male domain – the Sommelier of the Year and Junior Sommelier of the Year competition, held in Auckland on Sunday 20 August.

The Sommelier of the Year Awards 2017… left to right: Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas, Karen Fistonich of Villa Maria, Sommelier of the Year Stephanie Guth, committee member Michael Darby and NZSFW founder and director, Celia Hay.

The annual competition was held at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine by school founder Celia Hay, in collaboration with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas. It’s open to entrants from throughout the country and has seen New Zealand winners travel to visit Champagne Louis Roederer in France and junior winners  visit Central Otago, hosted by Andy and Misha Wilkinson, owners of Misha’s Vineyard.

Stephanie Guth, who won Sommelier of the Year 2017 said she was humbled to win the top prize but also by the process itself, which included tasting six wines, all with their identities concealed. The competition put entrants through their paces in other ways too. They had to open champagne for the judges and an audience, pouring champagne into eight glasses while answering questions about different beverages.

“Blind tasting is always a very humbling experience,” says Guth, who works as the sommelier and runs the beverage programme at The French Café in Auckland. Guth was born and bred in Canada. She trained first as a chef and five years ago made the transition to the front of house. She is part of the global growth in women pursing this career path. As is Amelia French, winner of the Junior Sommelier of the Year competition, held on the same night. French works at the George Hotel in Christchurch.

Awesome aromatics in Auckland… tomorrow it’s all on

It was a raging success today – “best aromatics wine tasting I’ve ever been to” and “I now feel like I understand wine a lot more” – and it’s all happening again tomorrow…

Here I am at the fourth annual Wine & Food Celebration in Auckland…

It is now an annual fixture on the city’s calendar and it was spear headed by Celia Hay, the founder and director of the New Zealand School of Food & Wine, which is based in Customs Street West, Auckland CBD.

Tomorrow there is a sake master class, a wine class led by Master of Wine Bob Campbell (known for his humour as well as great wine knowledge and an entertaining style of education and tasting skills) and then we have two aromatic wine classes.

Here are the wines I will host at 4pm:

2014 Loveblock Sweet Moscato

2016 Misha’s Late Harvest Gewürztraminer

2016 Two Rivers Sauvignon Blanc

2013 Decibel Viognier

2014 Grillo Tasca Sapori d’Italia (our non aromatic control wine)

2014 Misha’s Limelight Riesling

And here’s the time table:

  • Feel the Heat: BBQ & Chilli. 5pm Monday 21 August $75
  • Discover Saké: 5pm Monday 21 August $60
  • Bob Campbell MW: 6pm Monday 21 August $75 per person
  • Aromatic Whites – taste the aromatic white wine wave with me at 4pm Monday 21 August (price included in entry fee)
  • German Rieslings at 6pm with Michael Jemison – the perfect ending to this great event.
  • Click here to buy tickets.

Event information and ticket purchase here website.

Aromas, awards, accolades in Auckland this August…

It’s a big month at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine where a bunch of the best will compete for this year’s New Zealand Sommelier of the Year and Junior Sommelier of the Year .

The competition is on Sunday 20 August and the winners will be announced later that day at 7pm at the awards dinner – a Lebanese styled meal from Samir Allen at Gemmayze Street.

And for those who don’t feel up to competing, there are other reasons to attend the event because it also includes New Zealand and Aromatic Wine Tastings, which are being led by yours truly and wine importer Michael Jemison of Macvine International as well as  masterclasses on sake and wine by Wayne Shannon and Master of Wine Bob Campbell.

The school’s annual Wine + Food Celebration highlights outstanding wine and food from all over New Zealand as well as championing top notch service for those working with it.

Find out more and book tickets to the event and its tastings here: http://event.foodandwine.co.nz/Buy_Tickets.html