The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

NZ Sommelier reaches semi-final of international competition

Celia Hay with Andrea Martinisi.

New Zealand Sommelier Andrea Martinisi reached the semi-finals of the ASI Association of Sommeliers Best Sommelier in the World competition in Belgium. There were 66 candidates from 63 countries competing over a four-day event in Antwerp.

Germany’s Marc Almert was named the winner with Denmark’s Nina Jensen coming second and Latvia’s Raimonds Tomsons, third.

Celia Hay, Chair of New Zealand Sommeliers and Wine Professionals, says reaching the semi-finals was an enormous achievement for Martinisi.

“New Zealand only became a member of ASI in 2018 and this is our first competition as a member,” she says.

Martinisi, originally from Italy, has worked in leading restaurants, including Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and is currently beverage director at Auckland restaurant, The Grove.

“It’s a big thrill for me to get in the top 19 candidates and be able to compete against the leading sommeliers of the world. I have been studying and practising for months in preparation,” says Martinisi.

The competition includes blind tasting or wines, spirits and beers. There are written exams and practical restaurant-based scenarios, including problem solving of how to host a wine event, verbal tasting of beverages, food and wine pairing. Every task has a time limit for example candidates are given six minutes to decant and present an aged wine.

“The competition is important and relevant for us in New Zealand, as we are a large wine exporting country and need to improve our knowledge of the wines we sell,” says Hay.

“Sommeliers are the front end of explaining about wines to customers and enhancing the customer experience when dining.

“Training to become a sommelier is also an important pathway for people work in restaurants, hotels and resorts as it is very aspirational and providing excellent opportunities to advance a career.”