This year at the Hotel le Meridien, the UK Sommelier Association held the fifth edition of The Best UK Sommelier - Villa Sandi Award and Fine Wines Walkaround Tasting. The competition was hosted on stage by the TV presenter Joe Fattorini, with the support of the UKSA President Andrea Rinaldi, and the Vice President Federica Zanghirella.

The event culminated in the announcement of the UK’s Best Sommelier Matteo Furlan, Sommelier at The Ritz. First runner up Salvatore Castano, Sommelier at Mash and second runner up Noemie Favrat, Sommelier at The Dorchester.

 The first morning session, saw the Sommeliers taking part in a first round written exam, blind wine tasting and wine pairing, supervised by members of Italian Sommelier Association (AIS).  From this, the contestants were whittled down to three semi-finalists.

In the afternoon, the three semi-finalists were asked to perform on stage the best service possible, to role-playing customers, made up of the chief of the Vernacia di San Giminiano Consortium Stefano Campatelli and the Master of Wine Susan Hulme.

The three finalists performance included blind wine and spirit identification, service, bottle opening, decanting, wine and food pairing and communication test.

 Judging the performance Masters of Wine, journalists, Sommeliers, wine experts and AIS board members including Christopher Walkey, David Bird, Anthony Rose, Christopher Cooper, Roberto Bellini, Neville Blech, Peter Dean, Neil Phillips, Igor Sotric and Julien Sarrasin, former champion.

The Winner was awarded with cup, sash, a magnum of Prosecco offered by the main sponsor Villa Sandi and a £1000 cheque offered by UKSA.

The Best UK Sommelier 2019, Villa Sandi Award pays homage to the style, elegance and skills of this passion fuelled profession, and has been designed to celebrate the wine professionals within the hospitality industry and their crucial role in the business.