Nelson Mandela was one of my heroes. This quote of his always resonates with me: “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” What a brilliant and healthy attitude for navigating life!
This same philosophy is our beacon as we systematically review the aims, structures and processes for the ASI’s showpiece wing: the Sommeliers Contests Commission.
There’s an open secret around those competitions: Best Sommeliers aren’t born that way. The winners are the ones who persist until they reach their goals. This applies even to the most luminary names in our field, such as Gérard Basset. While his moment in the sun as Best Sommelier of the World is remembered by all; fewer recall that this triumph did not come until his 5th attempt.
These facts may not fit into the general mythology of the wine genius, but look for Basset’s name elsewhere in this newsletter — you’ll see just how aware he was of the value of identifying talented wine professionals and encouraging them to train, taste and hone their skills through competition.
Yes, contests inherently produce a winner who becomes an ambassador for the profession. But all those who participate including the thousands who compete in the regional and national levels to qualify for the international contests, deserve our respect and attention: they are the ones raising the overall level of sommellerie across the globe!
With that in mind, this issue of the newsletter explores the various aspects of competitions: not just the people who win them, but also the new wrinkles that are being introduced to help us all win or learn.
Lastly, I want to dedicate this newsletter to the memory of our colleague Oliver Murtagh, head of the Irish Sommelier Association, who unexpectedly left us this month. He was a dear friend, a mentor for Irish sommeliers, and an inspiration for sommeliers worldwide…