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Eric Zwiebel will represent France

Europe’s Best Sommelier’ Competition

Selection for ‘Europe’s Best Sommelier’ Competition Paris

Eric Zwiebel will represent France
Having won a place amongst the finalists at the last World competition, Eric Zwiebel from Alsace, who currently works in Great Britain, gained the right to once again present himself as the French candidate. The selection tests that brought him together with David Biraud and Dominique Laporte confirmed the progress achieved
by this generation of sommeliers whose boundless enthusiasm for competitions is clear.

The same setting, in the reception rooms of the Sofitel Baltimore Hotel in Paris and the same candidates: David Biraud (from ‘Les Ambassadeurs’ restaurant at the Crillon Hotel in Paris), Dominique Laporte (from the ‘Auguste’ restaurant in Paris) and Eric Zwiebel (from the ‘Summer Lodge’ restaurant in Evershot, Great Britain). In autumn 2006, these three sommeliers competed for a place in the World competition held in Rhodes. They met again this year, on 17th March, to attempt to qualify as the French candidate for the competition, ‘Europe’s Best Sommelier’. Some of the most highly skilled professionals in Europe will take part in this contest to be held from 17th to 19th May 2008, in Sofia, Bulgaria.

France has been vying for such a title since 2002 and seeking success equal to that achieved by Franck Thomas, so the selection tests were highly specialised. “Our approach is intentional, because all over Europe the candidates selected will present skills of a very high standard. We must therefore raise the criteria of our selection and also take into account that French sommeliers are often disadvantaged by their limited access to foreign wines” pointed out Serge Dubs, President of the Union of the French Sommelier Profession (UDSF) and also winner of the European competition in 1988, so he is an expert in this field.Eric Zwiebel
David Biraud

Theory, practical tests
and stopwatch at the ready!

The three candidates began their morning by tasting two wines for which they had to write comments within a given time of fifteen minutes. Another written test followed: a series of 41 questions to be answered in an hour gave them the chance to take stock of their knowledge. It wasn’t easy to say what cross-breed of grape varieties corresponds to the Irsai Olivier variety in Hungary. No easier was it to situate the regions of Australia (Peel, Gundagai, South Burnett, Barossa Valley, Heath Cote, Currency creek) in the right state, or specify what ‘Cap Doctor’ is in South Africa. “The questions were really on a par with those in the World competition” David Biraud told us. “I was surprised that there were no questions about current events” admitted Dominique Laporte, who was rather glad to move on to practical tests.
The stopwatch was always