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 19 sep 2018 04:05 

Belgium (Antwerp) to organise the world's most prestigious sommelier competition

50 years after the first edition of the world’s most prestigious sommelier competition in Brussels (1969), the “A.S.I. Best Sommelier of the World” is returning to Belgium once again. Over 65 sommeliers from 62 countries will be competing for the title of Best Sommelier in the World in Antwerp, from 11th-15th March 2019.

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Back in Belgium after 50 years
From 11th-15th March 2019 the 15th edition of the most prestigious sommelier competition in the world will take place in the ‘Elisabethzaal’ in Antwerp. This unique triennial world championship is the initiative of A.S.I. (Association de la Sommellerie Internationale/ International Sommelier Association).  It will be organised in conjunction with the Belgian Sommeliers Union and their president William Wouters, a resident of Antwerp. The first edition of this competition took place in Brussels in 1969. Now three years after it was last held in Mendoza, Argentina, the competition returns to its roots in Europe.
Antwerp stronger than …Bordeaux
Two cities were in the running to host the 2019 competition and surprisingly Antwerp overcame Bordeaux. “Antwerp is an extremely important harbour for importing wines worldwide. Furthermore Belgians are well-known to be true winelovers and experts. We are obviously very delighted to bring the competition back to Belgium, 50 years after the first edition here” confirms William Wouters. 
Worldcup for wine waiters
A total of 65 sommeliers will take part in the competition in March 2019 which starts with the quarter final on the 11th March and ends with the grand finale on 5th March. In the final the three best sommeliers will battle for the most prestigious title in their craft worldwide. 62 countries will each present their most qualified candidate.  This will include the three winners of the continental championships, namely Europe, Africa, Asia-Oceania and America. 
Live recording and streaming
As there will only be space for 2,000 spectators in the ‘Elisabethzaal’ in Antwerp, the competition will also be broadcast live on a big screen with a live stream online.
Sommelier: More than just experts in wines…
The new edition of this international competition will be the perfect opportunity to show professionals and the public how the craft of sommeliers has evolved over the years. “Today the job involves much more than just pouring wine. Not only does a sommelier dispense a broad knowledge of the ever dynamic wine industry, but also other drinks such as beer, spirits, water, coffee, saké, etc. They also need to have an eye for human interactions, have a broad social intelligence and needs to deal with several economic criteria such as efficient management of supplies” says William Wouters.
Chairman of the A.S.I., Andres Rosberg from Argentina, says: “Wine expertise and trade skills can be gained in specialised schools, but experience is learned during informal processes, for example picked up in practice. This reality creates an obvious need for continued education, strengthened by personal experience, which is what A.S.I. allows sommeliers to accomplish by organising different activities.”

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