NEW ASI Communication Team is in full motion

by Andrés Rosberg

As sommeliers, we are communicators, forever telling the stories of wine, regions, flavors, vintages and people. Communicating about wine is our passion and it is an essential part of our work.

ASI is no different. We want to share our vision, challenges, achievements, dreams and all the news with our global family. ASI is made up of 58 national sommelier associations in five continents. Improving communications is a great way to bring us closer together, promote our profession, and strengthen our role as the leading international organization in the world of sommellerie.

On Nov. 18, 2017 I sent each association a letter about the composition of the different committees and I told you about our plans to issue a Newsletter during 2018.

Today I want to share this first edition of our monthly newsletter, which will be a vehicle to share news, information, opinions and work. It is the result of the work of our new PR, Communications and Marketing committee, directed by Michèle Chantôme, coordinated by Gabriel Dvoskin, and subdivided into three sections managed by Véronique Rivest (Marketing & PR), Liora Levi (Press & Communications) and Djurdja Katic (Internal Communication & Reporting).

During our first meeting in early March, the team worked on several fronts to establish best methods for articulating and disseminating ASI’s vision and developing communication guidelines for all international competitions. Their work includes the structuring of ASI’s social media channels to make them more efficient, developing requirements for a new website and a new logo, establishing contact with media and creating conditions to start building an inclusive press network with our member organizations.

Stay tuned for more information on world sommellerie. The closer we work the more growth we will bring to our profession and to the national sommelier associations in ASI.

Best sommelier of Norway in 2018 is Henrik Dahl Jahnsen

Henrik is in a restaurant business since 2010 and since than he was  working on several different positions in hospitality service, as chef apprentice to a sommelier and general manager mostly in Bølgen & Moi Ny-Hellesund and nowadays as a sommelier at  Bølgen & Moi Kristiansand.

In a 2008/2009  he was educated  at Catering School, Kristiansand. In 2010 he did WSET Advanced, Pass with Merit and in 2012 did sommelier, best of the year at Kulinarisk Akademi.

His resume in competitions in a just a seven years is really impressive:

  • 2018: 1st. Place Norwegian Sommelier Championships
  • 2017: 2nd. Place Nordic Sommelier Championships
  • 2017: Quarter-finalist A.S.I. Best Sommelier of Europe
  • 2017: 2nd. Place Norwegian Sommelier Championships
  • 2016: Semi-finalist Nordic Sommelier Championships
  • 2016: Semi-Finalist; A.S.I. Best Sommelier of the World (11th place)
  • 2016: 1st. Place Norwegian Sommelier Championships
  • 2015: Semi-finalist Nordic Sommelier Championships
  • 2015: 3rd. Place Norwegian Sommelier Championships
  • 2014: Semi-finalist Nordic Sommelier Championships
  • 2014: 1st. Place Norwegian Sommelier Championships
  • 2013: Semi-finalist Norwegian Sommelier Championships
  • 2012: 3rd. Place Norwegian Sommelier Championships
  • 2011: 1st. Place Norwegian Young Sommelier of the Year

We asked him a few questions about his third Champion title and future ideas. Check what he answered to us.

Q1:  You won Norwegian contest for the third time. Did you expect it and how do you feel about it? Was it easier or harder then previous times? 

Absolutely not, the level gets higher and higher every year and many of the previous finalists are competing year after year. I think it gets a little bit harder every year, perhaps not the competition itself, but the added pressure of having already won makes it even more important to perform well.

Q2: How do You think the title of Best Sommelier of Norway will change your life?

These kind of things are probably not that important in the Norwegian society, but I guess I would stand a good chance of getting a job at the best restaurants in the country.

Q3: How is the profession of sommeliers in Norway? What can be improved?

I think the sommelier profession is well taken care of in Norway, and many restaurants actually pay for the entire education and travel costs because they really want a Sommelier and they want to keep their experienced staff. To be a waiter is among the less paid jobs in Norway, but I still think it is possible to have a good life as salaries in Norway are generally quite reasonable and high compared to other countries. There is also a really good tip in many restaurants, and being a trained waiter or even better, Sommelier, gives you added value to most employers.

One important thing that I think should be improved is to make Sommelier a protected title, as there is still a few restaurants boasting about sommeliers without actually having them and the restaurant business needs and deserves more credit as we all work very hard to provide the best possible experience to our guests.

Q4: You have a great knowledge about food and wine. What do you think you can do to promote your national beverages and gastronomy?

This is a difficult one as we are not allowed to advertise for alcoholic beverages in Norway. I think the best way we can promote our national products is to use them more often on our menus and to talk more about them when we do. Norwegian beverages offer exciting and different combinations together with food, and in my experience the guests really like it when we give them something unexpected and locally produced.

New (old) president in Serbia is Dejan Živkoski

Dejan is in a hospitality business since 1987.

Since that time, he was working in the hotels and restaurants all over Serbia and abroad.

He entered Serbian sommelier Association in 2003 and was one of the founders of the association. He become president of SERSA for the first time in 2014 and he was re-elected in 2018 for his 2nd mandate, until 2022.

Since 2014 SERSA was the host of GA ASI in 2016 and in 2018 will be host for the very first Balkan Sommelier Challenge. Nowadays, beside the association he is owner and working at the Steak & Wine bar in Belgrade and F&B adviser at Consili group for hotels all over the world.

Check here what he told us about his plans and visions:

Q1: What is your vision/plans in the future for Serbia Sommelier Association? 

Most people have a general idea about what they want for their lives. The capacity to relay that vision to others for me is the challenge. Regarding me, this is something that sets apart a leader from the rest.

Serbian Sommelier Association after many years starts to drive on the highway, in this moment not at full speed, but it certainly grows day by day.

This year is big for all of us from Southeast Europe, very new page of Food and Beverage industry will be written with the Balkan Sommelier Challenge. Serbian Sommelier Association is the host.

After this… lets dream… European championship…

Q2. How do you see development/promotion of the sommelier profession in Serbia and world?

Attracting and keeping engaged and loyal sommeliers – members is crucial to the success of a associations. A great way to retain sommeliers and nurture his skills is to consistently and actively promote professional development activities.

Encouraging professional growth shows your team you care about their progress and their future, and it inspires loyalty in members.

We have three Level of education for professionals and one for the wine lovers. For each of them we developed book and trainings.

Serbian Sommelier Association create a customized development plan for the best sommeliers to support professional development during performance planning. We have schedule regular coaching or mentoring sessions to improve skills and knowledge and discuss progress and allow the sommeliers to ask questions.

At the world level we need to create serious promotions who we are and what we do. ASI diploma must be present to all big hotel company’s and to the best restaurants of the world.

Best sommelier of Cyprus in 2018 is Andreas Kyprianou

Andreas is in the wine business for fifteen years although he graduated in other field. He has his Bachelor degree in Investment and Finance at Baruch College in NY. After working for two years in USA on promotion of Greek wines he came back in Cyprus in 2005 and started his own importing company and wine shop Vino Cultura.

In 2011 he transformed the wine shop into the first multi-venue wines destination in Cyprus, with a wine bar, a wine shop and educational center under the same roof. Since than, wine list at VinoCultura has won award for “Best of Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator and many awards as the “Best Wine List” and “Best Wine Bar” of Cyprus.

He passed Advanced examination at Court of master Sommeliers in 2018 and in the same year he won National Sommelier Competition in Cyprus.

We asked him a few questions about his first Champion title and future ideas, check what he answered to us:

Q1:  This is your first title of Best Sommelier of Cyprus. How do you feel?

Of course, I’m very excited for this title but, most of all, I’m thrilled to have the chance to represent my country at the next European Competition in 2020 which as we know will take place in Cyprus.

Q2: How do you think the title of Best Sommelier of Cyprus will change your life?

I think the journey of the next two and a half years – until the next European Competition – will be quite thrilling and full of new acquaintances and experiences. At a local scale, people are offering their help in order to prepare and train like never before. At an international scale, partners from around the globe cooperating with my company Vino Cultura, which is one of the premier wine importers in our market, are also eager to help in any way they can. This title fills me with persistence and more motivation to promote wine culture, to seek for the even better result in whatever I do regarding wine.

Q3: How is the profession of sommeliers in Cyprus? What can be improved?

I believe this is the perfect analogy of the chicken and the egg…there aren’t many sommelier jobs because there aren’t enough sommeliers or is it the other way around? I believe it’s the latter.

Things are progressing very fast since our market has only recently recovered from the financial meltdown of 2013 which was a major setback. Our tourism sector is booming right now and the new wave of tourists making their way to our island are more set in experimenting with the local wines-more than ever before.

We see a new wave of young professionals turning to wine, reaching abroad (the social media and technology has certainly helped) and most importantly educating themselves much more than before. Truth be told, when I started in the hospitality industry, some 20 years ago, it was much more difficult to explore wine. Let alone living in a small and isolated island with high tariffs on wine. The turning point was our inclusion in the European Union in 2004 and as I said the technology.

The next competition for the Best Sommelier of Europe in 2020 is the perfect opportunity for the hospitality and wine industry in Cyprus to evolve and showcase its achievements of the past 20 years.

Q4: You have a great knowledge about food and wine. What do you think you can do to promote your national beverages and gastronomy?

First of all, promoting a whole country, no matter how big or small, it is never a one man’s job. Things change in Cyprus and more and more people appreciate a lot of professions which were kind of unknown in the island. We all must take the common decision to advance, while at the same time we preserve and deepen our relation with tradition. That’s the inner meaning of culture and of all its products, like wine for instance.

New president in Monaco is Dominique Milardi

Dominique is in the hospitality business for a long time with very precise philosophy about wines.

He is member of several very influence associations in Monaco. Like Monaco Wine stewards Association, Monaco Slow Food International Association, Big golden Cordon and French cooking and many more…

He created Association of the Maitres d’Hotel of Cote d’Azur and Monaco and being a President for a several years.

He is a co-founder of the competition of the Best Maitres d’Hotel of the Luxury hotels of Cote d’ Azur and Monaco and co-founder od the “Attellet d’Or Association”.

  • 1st place of Trophee Jacquart of the Best Maitre d’Hotel Provence-Alpes-Cote d’ Azur 2000
  • 3rd place Trophee Jacquart of the Best Maitre d’Hotel, France

After numerous experiences in big Luxury hotels and restaurants he entered in 2005 as a Head Wine steward in the restaurant “Intempo” of the Meridien Beach Plaza in Monaco. He is a trainer for the world group Starwod and assures courses of oenology every week.

He is a Vice-president of the A.M.I.R.A.  and a technical committee of International competition of international wines “Women and Wines of the World”  and so much more!

Check here what he told us about his plans and visions:

Q1: What is your vision/plans in the future for Monaco Association of Sommeliers? 

  • To continue the good work done By Patrice Frank and Jean Pallanca the 2 past Presidents.
  • To promote and encourage our sommeliers Association By a good communication, Facebook, Instagram, website, newspaper…
  • To work with the others Association of sommeliers regional and International, in order To have more contacts and opportunity.
  • To help the Monaco Candidate By All the ways for the future issues, Best sommelier of the world in 2019 in Belgium and the others competitions like best sommelier of Europe etc.
  • To do some formations and Master Class, wine tasting, vineyards visits, in order To help all the sommeliers of out country To progress and .be open mind in their passion/work…

Q2. How do you see development/promotion of the sommelier profession in Monaco and world?

I think our noble profession is changing. Now we not only have to select wines, making a wine list, or selling wines. Our role is more and more dedicated to be Ambassador…
Ambassador of the place you work, Ambassador of the wines and winemakers. Ambassador of your Country…

Also it is very important to be passionate and open mind, to be a good technician is not enough anymore  to be representative, humble, and always keeping in mind that when you think you know, you realize that you know nothing…

Knowledge of the wines of all around the world is also very important, in this world economy…

I am convinced that our passion/profession is the best we can do in order to be in harmony with the other, and giving our modest contribution to build a safe and better world.

Be green, it’s a necessity, but not in a stupid way, using the technology which is very useful ONLY if necessary…

Having good sense, le the base!

Everybody can add his heart and passion, this is for sure the way I work.

New president in Sweden is Beatrice Becher

Beatrice is 29 years old and she has already done a lot. In 2011 she graduated at Restaurant Academy International Sommelier and the same year started to work as a sommelier at the Erik’s Wine Bar in Stockholm until 2013 when she change to Sturehof.

She was competing for several years, very successfully.

  •  1st place at Nordic Sommelier Competition 2014
  •  1st place at Swedish Sommelier Competition 2014
  •  1st place at Best Swedish female sommelier 2011 (Lily Bollinger Award)

Since 2015-2017 she was Fine Wine Ambassador at Vingruppen.
Nowadays she is manager and co-owner at Folii Wine Bar / Restaurant Stockholm.

Here is what she said to us:

Q1: What is your vision/plans in the future for Swedish Association of Sommeliers? 

My vision for the Swedish Sommelier Association is to create a lot of activities: tastings, workshops, lectures & meetings. Sweden is a long country and very divided so our focus will be to find new members in the whole country.  We want to create a platform where the industry can meet, network and share experiences.

Q2. How do you see development/promotion of the sommelier profession in Sweden and world?

I believe that the whole industry has shifted in the past few years. People are dining out much more often and the general costumer is much more aware and interested in wine and gastronomy. The sommelier schools are graduating more students every year and new wine restaurants are opening every week.  Since Sweden is in a not a wine producing country (yes, we produce small amounts) Swedish sommeliers are often taking influences from the entire world which makes Sweden a fun and diverse country to “wine and dine”.

New president in Ukraine is Ivan Bachurin

Ivan entered Ukrainian Association of Sommeliers in 2008.

He is in hospitality business since 2001 and was working on different positions since than.

He started sommelier and wine competing since 2008 and won several prizes.

  • 1st place  “W-Trophy Ukraine” competition in 2014
  • 1st place National sommelier competition 2009
  • 1st place Blind tasting in the Ukrainian Sommeliers and Wine-makers Competition 2009
  • 2nd place National sommelier competition 2008

He is cofounder of Spirit Club – strong spirits connoisseurs community in 2010 and Co-founder of Ukrainian Spirits Course in 2017.

Nowadays teaching in several schools for wine and spirits (Vitaliy Kovach Sommelier School, WSET and  “Planet-Z” Bartenders School). Also works as a brand-ambassador Moet Hennessy in CIS markets since 2017.

In January 2018 he was elected President of the Ukrainian Sommelier Association. for a mandate of three years.

Here is what he told us:

Q1: What is your vision/plans in the future for Ukrainian Sommelier Association?

First of all I am planning to solve all the financial problems of ASU (Ukrainian Association of Sommeliers).  I also plan to develop local brands, both wine and strong alcohol.

As I was elected the ASU included 35 members, now we have 55 members already, and I plan to attract 30-50 members more.

To make ASU more effective and to spread the culture of alcohol consumption I plan to open ASU branches in Odessa, Dnepr, Kharkiv, Lviv.

I consider it is highly important to estimate the level of knowledge of our current and new members, to work out and implement the education program.

These will be my first steps on the position.

Q2: How do you see development/promotion of the sommelier profession in Ukraine and world?

As our market is relatively young and sommelier here is a person who teach consumers the culture of right alcohol and food consumption via tastings, consulting, educating trips.

New president in Norway is Liora Levi

Liora entered Norwegian Sommelier Association in a 2017 as vice president and in the same year she become Head of the press and communication for ASI.

She has been working in the restaurants business for a 10 years.

After she completed sommelier education she started to compete and she really did it!

  • 1st place in the Norwegian Championship 2013
  • 1st place in the Nordic Championship 2012
  • 2nd place in the Norwegian Championship 2012
  • 3rd place in the Baltic Championship 2011

Before 2015 when she started her own company, she was working in education of sommelier students, writing for food and wine magazines, worked for the German Wine Institute in Norway. Nowadays her company is dealing with wine consulting, wine tastings, wine writing, running the wine blog etc.

In February 2018 she was elected President of the Norwegian  Sommelier Association for a mandate of three years.

Here is what she told us:

Q1: What is your vision/plans in the future for Norwegian Sommelier Association?

Our vision for the Norwegian Sommelier Association is to increase the number of members drastically seeing that we have hundreds of sommeliers in Norway who are not members today. We want to create an association for all sommeliers in Norway. Of course for those working in restaurants, but also the ones who have «retired» to the import trade and the people who love wine so much that they have gone to the extend and taken a sommelier degree. Our goal is to create a platform for our sommeliers where they can come together and taste exceptional wines, network and learn even more about wine and its origins.

Q2: How do you see development/promotion of the sommelier profession in Norway and world?

Today we educate 100 sommeliers every year in Norway, which is a lot considering that we are not a wine producing country and we only have 5,3 million inhabitants. I get requests every week from restaurants and importers who are desperately seeking sommeliers so the demand for people in our profession is high here in Norway. I think that people in general, both in Norway and other parts of the world, are getting more conscious about their food and drinking habits which in turn requires restaurants to have educated staff on both sides of the kitchen counter.

photo by: Lars M. Holand

57 new certified A.S.I. Sommeliers

Among 75 candidates this year, 57 passed the ASI Certification Exam. 23 sommeliers obtained the GOLD certificate and 34 the SILVER certificate.

And for the first time ever, a « Best of the Best » particularly performant : Éric Zwiebel, a French sommelier from the United Kingdom.

Thank you to the associations of the countries having organized the 2018 A.S.I. Certification Exam in  Australia, Austria, South Korea, France, Greece, Hungary, Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Taiwan.

Some of them welcomed candidates from Canada, Croatia, Monaco, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom allowing them to sit for the tests prepared, then corrected and checked by the ASI Exam Committee under the guidance of Giuseppe Vaccarini.

The Silver and Gold  certificates, cards and pins will be given on the occasion of the next A.S.I. General Assembly in June in Georgia.

57 nouveaux Sommeliers certifiés A.S.I.

Sur les 75 candidats qui ont passé l’Examen de Certification A.S.I. 2018, 57 ont réussi !  23 sommeliers ont obtenu le diplôme OR et 34 le diplôme ARGENT.

Et pour la première fois, un « Major de Promotion » particulièrement performant : Eric Zwiebel, sommelier français au Royaume-Uni.

Merci aux associations nationales qui ont organisé l’Examen cette année en Afrique du Sud, Australie, Autriche, Corée du Sud, France, Grèce, Hongrie, Japon, Pays-Bas, Russie, Serbie, Taiwan.

Certaines ont accueilli des candidats du Canada, de Croatie, Monaco, du Luxembourg et du Royaume-Uni qui ont pu ainsi participer aux épreuves préparées puis corrigées et vérifiées par le Comité Examen de l’A.S.I. sous la houlette de Giuseppe Vaccarini.

Les diplômes, cartes et pins Or et Argent seront remis à l’occasion de l’Assemblée Générale de l’A.S.I.  en juin prochain en Géorgie.

Promotion 2018

  • Australia/Australie
    Mattia Cianca– Or/Gold
    Toru Takamatsu– Argent/Silver
  • Austria/Autriche
    Sarah Falch– Argent/Silver
    Stefan Klettner– Argent/Silver
  • Canada
    Leagh Barkley– Argent/Silver
  • Croatia/Croatie
    Goran Petric– Argent/Silver
  • France
    Éric Goettelmann– Or/Gold
    Christophe Martin– Argent/Silver
    Alexandre Morin- Argent/Silver
    Denis Verneau- Argent/Silver
  • Greece/Grèce
    Eleftherios Hanialidis– Or/Gold
    Efstathios Tsokos– Or/Gold
    Alexandros Bouzikas- Argent/Silver
    Aristotelis Sklavavenitis- Argent/Silver
    Fotios Stathopoulos- Argent/Silver
    Alexandros Triantafyllou- Argent/Silver
  • Hungary/Hongrie
    Norbert Kovacs– Or/Gold
    Máté Horváth– Or/Gold
    Imre Racz– Argent/Silver
  • Japan/Japon
    Kentaro Ikeda– Or/Gold
    Takehiro Oide– Or/Gold
    Masayasu Makita– Or/Gold
    Makoto Abe– Or/Gold
    Kenji Hayashi– Argent/Silver
    Yuya Kondo- Argent/Silver
    Aki Shidaka- Argent/Silver
    Ryousuke Kamima- Argent/Silver
    Takaaki Kosaka- Argent/Silver
    Aki Sudo- Argent/Silver
    Yuki Tomimitsu- Argent/Silver
    Hiroyuki Mitsuoka- Argent/Silver
    Mariko Watanabe- Argent/Silver
    Akiho Tanaka- Argent/Silver
  • Luxembourg
    Philip Niels Toase– Or/Gold
  • Monaco
    Bruno Scavo– Argent/Silver
  • Netherlands/Pays-Bas
    Martijn Roos– Or/Gold
    Adriaan Visser– Or/Gold
    Priscilla Van Der Voort- Argent/Silver
  • Russia/Russie
    Andrey Abramov– Or/Gold
    Pavel Bogdanov– Or/Gold
    Max Grebenik– Or/Gold
    Sergey Panov– Or/Gold
    Valeria Tenison– Or/Gold
    Irina Baeva– Argent/Silver
    Evgeniya Nazimova- Argent/Silver
    Olga Nestrueva- Argent/Silver
    Gregory Podrezov- Argent/Silver
    Karina Shchukina- Argent/Silver
    Olga Khomchenko- Argent/Silver
  • Serbia/Serbie
    Marco Skarica– Argent/Silver
  • South Africa /Afrique du Sud
    Joakim Blackadder– Argent/Silver
  • South Korea/Corée du Sud
    Cho Hyeon Cheol– Or/Gold
    Han Hyisu– Or/Gold
    Bori Jang – Argent/Silver
    Kim Jin Soo– Argent/Silver
  • United Kingdom/Royaume-Uni
    Eric Zwiebel– Or/Gold / Major de Promotion
  • Taiwan
    Lu Kai Wen– Or/Gold