Congratulations to Bachelor of International Hospitality Management student Dion Wai who took the top prize in blind wine tastings, theory and practical assessments at the New Zealand Sommelier of the Year Awards held recently at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine in Auckland.
Dion who works full time at Baduzzi in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter won return flights to Paris and a hosted trip at Champagne Louis Roederer in the Champagne region. He is finishing his degree in hospitality management at AUT and is also in the Court of Master Sommeliers certification programme.
Along with other finalists Dion had to taste six wines which had their identities concealed, including international wines, sit a theory exam and perform practical wine service in front of four judges who posed a series of challenging questions.
This year’s Sommelier of the Year Award was opened to any age whereas previously it was for people aged over 30 years. The change acknowledges the growth of young talent in the New Zealand hospitality scene right now, says Celia Hay, chair of the New Zealand Sommeliers and Wine Professionals Association.
‘The calibre of people entering under 30 years was extremely high. The competition included four women, which reflects the growing interest amongst women in pursuing careers in professional wine service.”
The Sommelier of the Year Competition is sponsored by Champagne Louis Roederer, Misha’s Vineyard from Central Otago and the New Zealand School of Food & Wine.
The New Zealand School of Food and Wine has sponsored Dion Wai’s flight to Paris and Champagne Louis Roederer will host him at the family owned estate. Louise Roederer’s New Zealand distributor, Eurovintage will facilitate Dion’s visit to France.