Jo Wessels first day at the 2019 Best Sommelier of the World

Monday, 11 March, 2019
Jean Vincent Ridon
The tension was high at day 1 at the Queen Elizabeth center in Antwerp for the first part of the Best Sommelier of the World 2019. 66 Candidates from 63 countries were trying to ignore the stress by joking with each other.

Jo Wessels is participating for the very first time in an international ASI competition after winning the Moet & Chandon SASA Best Sommelier Competition of South Africa in 2018. Former SASA chairman Higgo Jacobs was with him to cheer him up and provide him last minute guidance. The tension was palpable, but Jo felt very at home among the best sommeliers of the world.

The program of the day started with a blind tasting of two wines, and the identification of three beverages served in black glasses. After a small break, candidates face a 22 page theory paper covering all the facets of sommellerie, from different cultivars of coffees to the new wine regions of China. An ego crusher to everyone.

Out of the 66 candidates, only 18 will reach the semi finals. Tuesday will be the second day of the tasks, focusing on service practicals.

Candidates will be facing tough conditions which will test their service skills within a limited time frame. 

Jo seemed to be fairly confident after his first day. Two questions were on Vin de Constance, one of the SA iconic wines, and some candidates believe that the red wine may have been a Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon... the wines will only be disclosed on Friday at the end of the finals.

We wish Jo all the very best for this gruelling competition

Jo Wessels - ready for action
Jo Wessels - ready for action

Jo Wessels with his South African cufflinks
Jo Wessels with his South African cufflinks

Wouter William Wouters (president sommeliers of Belgium and organiser) and Andres Rosberg (President
Wouter William Wouters (president sommeliers of Belgium and organiser) and Andres Rosberg (President

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