The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Sommelier of the Year 2017 revealed

(L-R) Members of the New Zealand Sommeliers and Wine Professionals Association committee: Head Judge Cameron J Douglas, Karen Fistonich, winner Stephanie Guth, Michael Darby, from Christchurch and Celia Hay, chairman of New Zealand Sommeliers and Wine Professionals Association.


Two women won the Sommelier of the Year and Junior Sommelier of the Year titles on Sunday night.

The annual competition took place at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine and was run by school founder Celia Hay in collaboration with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas.

The French Café’s Stephanie Guth was named Sommelier of the Year 2017 after completing tasks including tasting six wines, opening Champagne for the judges and an audience and pouring the Champagne in to 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 highly regarded Auckland restaurant.

Amelia French, from the George Hotel in Christchurch, won the Junior Sommelier of the Year competition.

“This award recognises the vital role played by the hospitality professional as part of the dining experience and serves to inspire others to look beyond the traditional roles of chef and server,” says Celia Hay.

“At this level a sommelier must have developed an exceptional palate and comprehensive knowledge of beverages. While wine styles, grape varieties and regions are important, a sommelier must also be knowledgeable about cocktails, spirit brands, beer and Japanese sake as well as tea and coffee. A sommelier must also have excellent communication skills.”