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Singapore’s sommeliers celebrated

The fifth instalment of the annual Singapore’s National Sommelier Competition showcased a new breed of talents such as youngest participant and semi-finalist Alexander Peh, 21, who brought home the award for Best Theory, as well as first time participants Jacques Chua of 1855 Bottle Shop and Vincent Tan of Wine Culture, first and second runner up of Singapore’s National Sommelier Competition 2014 respectively, writes Mandy Lynn.

Finalists Vincent Tan, Fazil Mohamed and Jacques Chua (centre L to R) with the judges

Bringing home the coveted title of Singapore’s National Sommelier 2014 is Fazil Mohamed of Salt Sky Bar & Grill by Luke Mangan, previously second runner up of 2010 and 2011. Mohamed also brought home the award for Best Practical.

On finally winning the coveted title, Mohamed gratefully thanked his mentor Fabien Duboueix, head sommelier at Joël Robuchon Singapore, showcasing incredible showmanship that surprised the audience – offering his prize of a professional wine opener Code38 engraved with “Champion 2014” to second runner up and close friend, Tan, adding that, “Friendship means more than a prize”.

Shared second runner up, Tan, said: “It’s a gift that I’m unqualified for and it is my responsibility to live up to it. I’m looking forward to next year’s competition to prove my worth.”

On the competition, said Tan, “I am honored to have had the chance to compete against such an incredible pool of talent. I now have a newfound respect for past champions. Standing on stage felt like a baptism of fire!”

Non-placement awards were also given to three semi-finalists for Best Theory, Best Practical, and Best Tasting. The last recipient of the non-placement awards, semi-finalist Vincent Kwong of Mama San in Hong Kong brought home the trophy for Best Tasting.

On the judging panel, founder of Taberna Wine Academy, Tan Ying Hsien spoke highly of the semi-finalists.

“I am really motivated by their passion and commitment to wine. You can really see the time and effort they have taken to prepare for this competition,” he said.

The youngest participant to have ever made it into the semi-finals, Peh was passionate about sharing why he joined the competition. “I love service; I love hospitality. As with all Singaporeans, I love my food, I love to share the pleasures that one can derive from this magical grape juice we call wine. I strive to muster the ability to make every guest’s dining experience perfect, or as ideal as possible.”

Semi-finalists were put through a grueling one-hour theory exam consisting of 40 open-ended questions and a blind tasting of two wines, and a practical exam where competitors are tested on their knowledge of decanting, sparkling wine service, and food and wine pairing.

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