When we conceived the Indian Sommelier Championship (ISC) over eight years ago, the idea behind it was simple: to provide wine waiters and stewards with the means to appreciate what they were serving and consequently communicate about them effectively to their clients. However, in a constantly changing social milieu like ours, such an endeavour is easier imagined than executed.
Over the last eight years, the Indian Sommelier Competition has evolved to become the definitive platform for education in the fine art of sommellerie. For young aspirants nothing serves as a better tool in honing your skills and knowledge than a good old fashioned Sommelier Championship where you get to pit your skills and palates against one another.
Consequently, as the 8th Indian Sommelier Championship draws to a close on October 12th, 2015, the run-up to the big day is generating tremendous excitement, following a strenuous six days of masterclasses involving 70 brands and over a 100 participants. The focus was the masterclasses, where international and Indian drinks professionals shared their knowledge and experience with the candidates, equipping them with all they needed to know to go forth and serve beverage with aplomb – and not just wine but beer, spirits, liqueurs and even cocktails, all of which are incuded in the Competition. We believe that the ideal sommelier’s repertoire should boast of beverages across all segments.
So as we gear up for the grand finale at The Leela Ambience Hotel & Residence, Gurgaon, listed here are the Indian champions who have shown their determination to make it this far and will now meet on stage to battle it out for the top spot.
Shubham Mehta – The Oberoi, New Delhi
Rijul Mohil – The Oberoi, New Delhi
Neeraj Kapri – The Lalit, New Delhi
Surender Singh – Dusit Devarana, New Delhi
Harish Acharekar – Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai
Sachin Khavle – Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai
Pratik Angre – Taj Blue Diamond, Pune
Lalit Rane – JW Marriott Sahar, Mumbai
Sreejith Menon – Trident Nariman Point, Mumbai
The title winner will get the exclusive opportunity to visit a world renowned wine region. For others, there are specially-curated winery visits and blending exercises with master winemakers, the kind that will certainly enrich and enhance their experience in the best possible way with an impact on their career.
Honing the senses is one thing but the real learning that we wish for the participants to take back isn’t one that pertains to tasting and deciphering wines but that of humility. Apart from tactile skills, being a sommelier is a lot about listening and accepting that the wine world is just too vast to know it all.
By Gagan Sharma
Educator and Professional Sommelier, Wi-Not Beverages
Sommelier India Writer and SI Tasting Panel Co-ordinator
Top left: Delhi finalists, left to right – Surender Singh, Neeraj Kapri, Shubham Mehta and Rijul Mohil. Right: Mumbai finalists, left to right – Sachin Khavle, Pratik Angre, Sreejith Menon, Lalit Rane and Harish Acharekar