The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Somm-thing to talk about


Sommelier of the Year 2017, Stephanie Guth.

We chat to Stephanie Guth, Sommelier at Auckland’s French Café, who was recently named Sommelier of the Year 2017 at the annual competition held at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine.

How intense was the Sommelier of the Year competition?

The competition was in line with the Court of Master Sommelier Certified level exam. We had an hour to blind taste three red and three white wines and determine grape variety, country of origin, structure and provide aroma descriptors, as well as complete a multiple choice and short answer exam. Three finalists were called back to do a service exam which involved opening a bottle of Champagne, a wine under cork and decanting a bottle, all while answering questions about service, offering wine pairing suggestions and cocktail descriptions.

How did you feel when you won and what doors will the win open for you?

It was amazing to win and an absolute honour to compete alongside my fellow competitors. In the New Year I will have the opportunity to visit and tour the cellars of Louis Roederer in Champagne. I am very much looking forward to promoting the Sommelier trade alongside the NZ School of Food & Wine through mentorship programmes with students and other capacities. There may be opportunities to travel in the future and will relish at any chance to promote the role of a Sommelier and New Zealand wine domestically and abroad.

Where did your love of wine come from?

I started studying for my qualifications with the Court of Master Sommeliers while I was working as a cook and fell in love with how much there was to learn about wine and everything it encompasses; culture, geography, history and people.

Where in the world have you worked and where was your favourite?

I am Canadian and have lived and worked in Toronto, Italy, England and now New Zealand. I can’t pick a favourite place as they have all played a role in shaping my career and bringing me to where I am today but London has definitely had the biggest influence on my wine career. I think it is the centre of the wine world in terms of trade and distribution and the selection of producers you are exposed to and also have access to is unrivalled.

Sommelier of the Year 2017 Stephanie Guth (middle) with (L-R) runner-up Wayne Shennen and EuroVintage’s Andy Reid representing Louis Roederer.

Can you describe your current role?

I am currently working as the Sommelier at The French Café in Auckland. I am responsible for the wine list and assist with the bar programme. I work on the floor talking to our guests and assisting with their wine selections and supporting service.

What would your advice be to people in the hospo industry who are keen to be a sommelier?

Never stop studying! Be curious about everything and always keep an open mind. This is a job/role in which you never ever stop learning. Read all the books you can. It is an industry full of passionate people; winemakers, wine agents and suppliers, fellow somms, restauranteurs. Travel at every opportunity. The more countries, regions and vineyards you visit – the better you will be at your job. Ask a million questions!

Which wine region have you been to but is top on your bucket list?

Top of my bucket list at the moment is South Africa. The scenery alone is enough to entice a visit but to boot I’ve had plenty of delicious wines from the country and am keen to see the land and its vineyards for myself.

What are your five picks for must-try wines?

 Clos Rougeard Breze Blanc 1990

Giuseppe Mascarello Monprivato Barolo 1989

Pierre Overnoy Vin Jaune 1986

Michel Lafarge Volnay Clos des Chenes 1990

Thierry Allemand Cornas Reynard 1998

Krug Clos du Mesnil 1988