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Claridge’s sommelier wins Ruinart challenge

Emma Denney, the head sommelier of famed Mayfair hotel Claridge’s, has been named as the winner of the Ruinart UK Sommelier Challenge 2024.

Kowlczyk, Ferreira, Denney, and Panaïotis.

Competing with more than 30 other sommeliers in a blind tasting of a series of wines, with questions covering everything from the origin of the wine to how best to serve it, Denney came out on top.

The judging panel was headed by Ruinart chef de caves Frédéric Panaïotis, Core by Clare Smyth head sommelier Gareth Ferreira MS, and the winner of the 2023 UK edition of the challenge, Matteusz Kowlczyk.

As the winner, Denney will 19 other Ruinart Sommelier Challenge winners from around the globe in Reims and Paris for a four day trip to discover more about Ruinart.

“I am absolutely delighted to have won with so many talented sommeliers in the room today,” said Denney. “It was a very hard tasting with four very different wines that were very hard to identify blind, but it was a great challenge. I’m really looking forward to spending a week in Champagne with the Ruinart team in 2025.”

“I was very impressed by the insight and the quality of the contestants at this year’s competition. Everyone was really engaged in the masterclass, and worked hard in the blind tasting,” remarked Panaïotis. “Matteusz, Gareth and I had a lot of difficulty in choosing a winner as the overall quality was so high. We are delighted to welcome Emma to the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge international community, and are looking forward to welcoming her to Reims in 2025.”

“After seven years the competition continues to grow. I am delighted to share our knowledge – and enthusiasm – with the next generation of wine professionals,” he added.

The runners up, Zareh Mesrobyan (head of wine at Estelle Manor) and Maria Boumpa (head sommelier and wine buyer at Da Terra) received a magnum of Ruinart Rosé NV and a Coravin Sparkling System each.

the drinks business recently interviewed Denney about the drinks offering at Claridge’s Wine Cellar.

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