The Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award, an annual competition, has been established to recognise the achievements of professional wine waiters in South Africa. Semi-finalists will be flown to Cape Town in September for the final assessment.
One of the impediments to publicising the achievements of South African wine has been the absence of a class of wine waiters able to communicate the finer points of our wines and place them in an international context.
The past few years have resulted in important changes, which have come some of the way in addressing this gap. These include the involvement of the Cape Wine Academy in creating a qualification for wine service professionals, and the investments in waiter training driven by WOSA (Wines of South Africa) under the Fundi programme. The increasing number of internationally trained sommeliers living and working in South Africa is also, no doubt, contributing to a raised level of awareness about wine service.
Substantial knowledge of the local wine scene
An annual competition - aimed at encouraging those who seek to make a living from wine service - is clearly part of the next stage. Sponsored by Champagne Bollinger and with infrastructural support from Riedel Glassware, The Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award has been established to bring focus - and recognition of achievement - to the growing group of professional wine waiters in South Africa.
The competition is a joint initiative between Michael Fridjhon (importer of Riedel Glassware) and Vinimark The Wine Company (importer of Champagne Bollinger). Contestants will be required to have substantial knowledge of the local wine scene and of the professional service of both food and wine.
Relate to the expectations of international visitors
Insofar as the international wine market is concerned, contestants will be expected to have an adequate knowledge of classical appellations. More importantly, however, the contest will examine the ability of those selling wine in the on-consumption environment to relate what is produced in South Africa to the expectations of international visitors more familiar with the major wine producing regions of the world.
The Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award is intended to be an inclusive, industry-wide initiative. It has been established to advance the interests of the country's fine wine producers, as well as those who have chosen a career in wine sales and service in hotels, restaurants and wine bars. The competition is open to those currently employed in the service of food and wine, with a minimum of three years of such experience.
A trip to France
Screening and the first round of the competition will occur at regional level with semi-finalists being flown to Cape Town in September for the final assessment. The winning candidate will be announced at The Swartland Revolution in November 2011 and can look forward to a trip to France, including a visit to the House of Champagne Bollinger. Judges will include internationally trained sommeliers resident in South Africa.
For further details, go to www.wineserviceaward.co.za