The excitement at Palacio Kursaal was mounting. After a year of pre-selection of the best sommeliers in Spain, the final stage of the competition was about to take place in the middle of the San Sebastian Gastronomika.
Organised by UAES (Unión de Asociaciones Españolas de Sumilleres), the 37 Spanish sommeliers who’d reached the finals had already been regionally pre-selected. The final test was given in two parts - a written exam, followed by a live show with several practical tests.
The finalists were tested in the quality of their service, their capacity for making individual identifications, their ability to recognize errors and to suggest proper pairings. Their decanting technic was tested in front of a guest (and a live audience!), as well as other nerve-wracking tests.
In the end, a candidate who had been a finalist for the past three years emerged as number one this year: Rafael Reyes, from La Masía de Chencho in Elche, Alicante. The second and third positions were held by Sergi Figueras from Barcelona and Álvaro Prieto from León.
After so many tests to prove how capable he was in recognising and suggesting the best wines, his poetic comment was: «I do not believe in perfect wines, but in the perfect moments and feelings that the right wine can bring to our lives!».
Photo courtesy San Sebastian Gastronomika