ORIGINALLY from Poland, Maciej Zimny, from the Museum Hotel in Wellington, has won New Zealand Sommelier of the Year.

The prize is a trip to Paris and the French region of Champagne as the guest of Champagne House, Louis Roederer and to represent New Zealand at the Hong Kong Asia Oceania International Sommelier from November 4, along with runner up Michael Bancks from the Terroir Restaurant at Craggy Range, Hawkes Bay. Competitors had to evaluate and blind taste six premium wines, complete theory and oral questions as well as a practical session opening a champagne and red wine before the judges.

The competition, organised by Celia Hay’s New Zealand School of Food, was held over September 14-15 in Auckland. There were two other awards, Junior Sommelier of the Year won by Jarrod Svedlund and Young New Zealand Wine professional of the Year won by Tessa Bird-Ritchie.

“We are delighted by the growing interest and increasing standard of the wine professionals as they strive to improve their knowledge and skills and are bold enough to have a go in such a competitive arena,” Hay said.

Two representatives from 11 countries will compete to go forward to the world competition in Mendoza, Argentina in 2016.