Anantara Phuket’s Wine Guru is the first Thai sommelier
to participate in the world’s most prestigious wine competition
Mr. Chalong Songkroh, Anantara Phuket Villas’ Wine Guru and the winner of Thailand’s Best Sommelier 2012, will be the first Thai ever to compete in The 14th Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) Contest of the Best Sommelier of the World, which is recognised as the Olympics of sommeliers, to be held in Tokyo, Japan from 26 – 30 March 2013.
Thailand has hosted the country’s Best Sommelier Competition since 2008 and each year the competition attracts over 100 wine service professionals from around the country. Mr. Chalong Songkroh, the winner of Thailand’s Best Sommelier 2012, is the first Thai sommelier to be chosen to represent Thailand for this particular worldwide competition.
The Contest of the Best Sommelier of the World was founded in June 1969 in Reims, France by the non-profit organisation Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI), with the aim of bringing together and promoting one national sommelier association per country.
The competition, which takes place every three years in one of the ASI member countries that has been authorised to host the event, facilitates exchanges between many restaurant and hostelry professionals, encourages healthy competition between entrants, motivates participants to perfect their skills, and allows the sommelier profession to become better known to the public.
This year there will be 60 candidates from over 55 countries participating in two days of written and practical exam – the quarter final (on 27th March) and the semi final (on 28th March). Elite sommeliers from all over the world will have to technical knowledge test regarding grapes and wine; blind tasting skills; service; other beverages such as spirits and waters etc. Three best candidates will be selected to go through the public final round on the afternoon of 29th March.
Born in Roi-et, a city in the northeastern region of Thailand, Chalong began his sommelier career when he joined Anantara Phuket Villas as a resident Wine Guru in 2011. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Hotel Management from Mahasarakham University, and his interest in wine was inspired by a hotel school professor who asked him to name the highest rated and most expensive wine in the world. He became curious about why wines are regarded so highly, and from this point on devoted himself to exploring the world of vines and wines.
Chalong enthuses – “I am delighted and honoured to be the first Thai to attend this prestigious competition on behalf of the country. This is a great achievement in my career as a sommelier. I will do my best and believe that the opportunity to join the best sommeliers will enable me to gain more knowledge and be able to share my experience with my colleagues, strengthen the Anantara Wine Guru programme and enhance our guests’ overall enjoyment of wine.”
Joe Sriwarin, President of the Thailand Sommelier Association and organiser of Thailand’s Best Sommelier Competition, said – “It is great news that Thailand has been invited to take part in the 14th ASI Contest of the Best Sommelier of the World in Tokyo. This is the first time that a Thai sommelier will participate in the world’s most prestigious wine competition.”
When asked what chance a Thai candidate has to win the world title, he commented – “It is not every month or year that we are invited to enter and compete in the toughest competition. This is like a Sommelier Olympics and we are honoured to be part of it. We would like our candidate to learn from the experts, he’ll join the best sommeliers in the world. Some already hold Master Sommelier (MS) titles. ”
We will focus on the first hurdle (quarterfinal), we know it will be the toughest written exam and if he passes, it will be his lifetime career achievement. We hope he will do well and bring back a once-in-a-lifetime experience to share with his other sommelier colleagues and to make his organization proud,” Joe concluded.
This year, the Contest of the Best Sommelier of the World trip to Japan is sponsored by Minor International Plc, the country’s largest hotel and restaurant group, Anantara Phuket Villas and Wine Dee Dee Company Limited.