Written by Nathan Orseo
Last December 19, the Philippine wine industry reached a milestone in extending its influence towards the younger generation by providing aspiring Filipino student sommeliers a platform to showcase their mastery in the craft of wine—The Manila Young Sommelier Competition, which was held in the World Trade Center Metro Manila.
Spearheaded by the Vateliens In Progress, an organization from the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management (SHRIM) of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), alongside its partners: the Wine Head Sommelier Philippines and the Organization of Bar Professionals, the first edition of The Manila Young Sommelier Competition successfully launched and left its mark in the country as an innovative event. It was able to attract a variety of audiences, from wine professionals and brand representatives, to supportive schoolmates, friends, and family, who cheered for the contenders.
From vision to actuality
The idea to establish The Manila Young Sommelier Competition began as a mere light exchange of ideas between spirits and wine professionals who are faculty members of DLS-CSB. They pondered on the possibility of transforming one of SHRIM’s competitions to the national stage. Hence, what once was the Benilde Young Sommelier, instantly upgraded into The Manila Young Sommelier Competition in just nearly two months.
With the guidance of the competition’s sponsors: Gran Hacienda Wines, Artisan Cellar Doors, World Class Concepts Corp, and Premium Wine Exchange, the Vateliens In Progress were able to assign the participating students to their respective mentors for a one-on-one apprenticeship program which would prove beneficial for them in the competition. Furthermore, these sponsors were also generous enough to provide a box containing a dozen wine bottles each, which was later used by the contenders during the practical tests.
Aspiring sommeliers in action
The Manila Young Sommelier Competition was divided into three stages, where the contenders displayed their acquired mastery in the craft of wine, both in the theoretical and practical aspects. The first stage of the competition required them to undergo a wine theory quiz which revolved around topics on wine terminologies, grape varieties, and wine regions. Then, a wine label reading assessment followed where the contenders needed to correctly select ten wine bottles from a display shelf full of wine varieties. After doing so, they presented their wine bottles based on its producer, vintage, and grape variety. Lastly, the final part of the competition allowed the contenders to embody themselves as professional sommeliers who served the judges in a fine dining set-up. Their performance was evaluated based on their prowess of wine service, decanting, oral deductive tasting, and food pairing.
To conclude the competition, David Miguel de Guzman from the University of the Philippines-Diliman was declared as the first champion of The Manila Young Sommelier Competition. As a reward, he received a 3-foot trophy alongside a Coravin Model 2 Limited Edition. De Guzman was then closely followed by Gwyneth Nicole Abarquez from the Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas, who placed as the first runner-up.
The future of the Philippine wine industry
The first Manila Young Sommelier Competition proved to be a triumphant feat both by the Vateliens In Progress and its partners. On that day, the Philippine wine industry was able to establish awareness throughout the country, becoming more accessible and influential, especially towards the younger generation than it was before.
As a result, The Manila Young Sommelier Competition is likely to be an annual event, where more aspiring sommeliers may be given the opportunity to a platform and a head start on their desired career and industry.