The winner of 2023 Best Sommelier of World contest came to a thrilling end on Sunday in Paris in front of a crowd of 4,000 wine professionals and enthusiasts at the Paris La Défense Arena.
Raimonds Tomsons from Latvia saw off tough competitions from close to 70 from 65 countries to be eventually named as the final winner.
Nina Jensen from Denmark finished as runner up, and Reeze Choi from Hong Kong, China made history as the first Chinese candidate who made it to the final, becoming the second runner-up.
The compeition attracted wide attention in the wine and hospitality industry. The finale was livestreamed on Sunday and was watched by over 33,000 people on ASI’s official Youtube channel.
The three finalists selected from a pool of 17 semi-finalists stood out after various tasks designed to challenge the sommeliers’ knowledge, tasting skills, service acumen and ability to remain calm under pressure brought out the best in the candidates.
After announcing Reeze Choi as the second runner-up, Jensen and Tomsons knew one of them would be announced ASI Best Sommelier of the World 2023. After a moment of extreme anticipation Tomsons was announced as the winner, by ASI President William Wouters, to a large round of applause.
Of the competition, ASI President William Wouters says, “it took more than 30 years for this contest to return to Paris. It was worth the wait! From the first day candidates arrived, they were treated to the hospitality and amazing gastronomy of France. As for the contest itself, it honoured the commitment of our candidates by being both challenging and fair. It is with great pride that we announce Raimonds Tomsons as the winner. I have no doubts they will be a fantastic representative of ASI, and an inspiration to our global sommelier community.”
The tri-annual event, originally planned for 2022, was postponed to 2023 because of delays in hosting its regional, continental contests over the past two years as a result of the global pandemic.
This year, 68 competitors representing 65 countries vied for the ultimate Best Sommelier of the World title.
To qualify for the ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest, a competitor must be proposed by an ASI member association. The contests will be quized and tested in a multi-day event featuring various examinations including written theory, blind tasting, and service skills. The competition begins with a quarter-final round, followed by a semi-final and ultimate the finale, featuring the top three competitors as judged by the ASI. To add a level of complexity competitors must additionally compete in one of ASI’s official languages: English, French, or Spanish. Additionally, the language they chose to compete in must not be their mother tongue.