By Lily Nuttiya Wisootsat, Co-founder and President of Les Roches Wine Club
On Saturday 22nd March, I had the honor, along with four other students from Les Roches Wine Club, of representing Les Roches International School of Hotel Management at the 2014 Millésime Wine Tasting Competition.
The international competition, which took place at École Hotelière de Lausanne, brought together 15 teams from all over Europe and the United States of America.
The team worked very hard in order to prepare for the competition, not knowing what waters we will be tested on, but knowing that we were going up against world class institutes such as Cambridge University, Cornell University, Copenhagen Business School, Changins School of Oeonology as well as Oxford University, the eventual winner of this year’s competition.
The morning started off with a few debates where students as well as professionals in the food and wine industry were able to talk and share ideas about current issues and wine innovation. Each topic was also accompanied by a professional from each specialized field. For example, an expert on drones presented the topic of making videos using drones, and how it could affect the industry and increase sales. There were interesting discussions on augmented reality and implementing new-age technology, and innovation in creating new experiences to promote knowledge about wine and how this may have a positive impact on wine tourism.
The competition was challenging to say the least, and tested our knowledge and capabilities through three flights of challenges. The first flight was comprised of three Chasselas, and we had to match them with their appellation and vintage, as well as another flight of international whites and international reds. The competition also challenged all teams on not just blind tasting or theory, but on our knowledge of wine pairing with food. Coming from a world-class hospitality school, our team for sure had that part of the competition in the bag!
What we found to be very interesting about the competition was that the jury members were blind tasting along with us, so they were as surprised by the wines as we were! The head of jury could not have been anyone else but Mr Paolo Basso, the World’s Best Sommelier 2013 accompanied by other professionals from different fields of food and wine. Each jury member provided their own unique views on wine, from their unique perspectives, which gave the participants different dimensions to understand and learn.
The first part of the competition wrapped up nicely with an aperitif sponsored by the great winemakers of Vaud, as well as a jazz band. Activities such as the bottle swap, whereby participants all bring a bottle of wine to swap with another team in order to create bonding moments and facilitate networking were in place whilst we waited for the final round of the competition.
The evening ended with much anticipation as the three semifinalists, EHL, Copenhagen Business School and Oxford University fought for their top three positions on the stage in front of 180 oenophiles in the ballroom. With ten minutes to blind taste two wines, even Mr Paolo Basso thought it was extremely challenging! Nevertheless, everyone was able to learn the skills and understand what is expected from such a rigorous competition. We are able to reflect upon our performance and work even harder for next year.
Overall, it was a very inspiring event where we were able to meet other students who share the same passion as us, as well as professionals whose passion is to support learning oenophiles like us.
We truly look forward to bringing the name of Les Roches to more international stages, where we will eventually reach the top – through time and practice!