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1st Philippine Sommelier Competition March 27, 2017

The winners. From L-R: 2nd place winner Jose Carlos Tongco from Okada Manila, Champion Patrick Alan Tabhan from Makati Shangri-La, Manila, 3rd Place winner Matthew Rae De Guzman from Fairmont - Raffles Makati Hotel with Tommy Lam.

The Inaugural Philippine Sommelier Competition was held last March 27, 2017. Presented by the Philippine Sommelier Association in cooperation with Vintec and Enderun Colleges, the competition aims to upgrade the standards of our local sommeliers to be at par with world standards and is in line with the association’s vision of developing and uplifting the sommelier profession through education, practice, and exposure. The judging panel included three international judges – Tommy Lam from Singapore, Joe Sriwarin from Thailand, and John Hung from Taiwan; and three of our very own guest judges, Jay Labrador, Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi, and Cyrene dela Rosa.

The event gathered 22 competitors in the Professional Category and 2 competitors in the Junior Category. The Professionals are from premier hotels such as Makati Shangri-La, Edsa Shangri-La, Fairmont - Raffles Makati Hotel, and Okada Manila; as well as from top restaurants such as Ruby Jacks Manila, Txanton Torre Wine & Jamon, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse Manila by Wolfgang Zweiner, Donosti Pintxos y Tapas, The Girl + The Bull, 12/10, and Monopole Wine Bar amongst others.  After the morning preliminaries consisting of written and practical exams, the top three (3) were selected. The finalists then competed on stage in front of their fellow participants and an audience of industry peers, F&B personalities, wine enthusiasts, and supporters.  It was a truly exciting and suspenseful final. The candidates were tested not just on their wine and beverage knowledge but also on their service abilities, rapport with customers, and most importantly, their ability to think and act under extreme pressure.

One of the highlights of the final was the champagne-pouring segment where the finalists open and pour a magnum bottle of Pol Roger Champagne into 16 glasses as evenly as possible without going back to the previous glass they already poured. The audience all held their breaths as each glass was being filled! After the final competition, while the judges deliberate, it was time for a drink! The wine expo opens its doors to all the participants and guests. Evian and Badoit provided refreshing water throughout the whole event. Wines from various regions flowed into Lucaris glasses as everyone excitedly awaited the results. Wine sponsors include Artisan Cellars, Premium Wine Exchange, AWC Philippines, Happy Living Fine Wines, Sommelier Selection, and Silver Secrets, Inc. Guests also had a taste of the beautiful cheeses from Chef Selection. On the stage, a gorgeous Vintec wine cabinet was on display, waiting to be brought home by the Philippines’ top sommelier, who will also go on an all-expense paid trip to Jakarta, Indonesia to represent the Philippines in the 6th Southeast Asia + Taiwan’s Best Sommelier Competition on April 15, 2017. (We are waiting for the results of this.)

The three professional finalists were really put through the test but in the end, one of them proved to be a cut above the rest. The winner of the 1st Philippine Sommelier Competition was Patrick Alan Tabhan of Makati Shangri-La. “Apart from his wine knowledge, Mr. Tabhan was charming and confident. He always had a smile and he carried himself with grace even under extreme pressure,” says Ms. Pierre Addison, President of the Philippine Sommelier Association. Taking second place is Jose Carlos Tongco of Okada Manila, and third place is Matthew Rae De Guzman of Fairmont – Raffles Makati Hotel. The winner of the Junior competition was Yvette Belleza and the runner-up was Gemelle Mae Lim. Both competitors are from Enderun Colleges. 

Now we await Patrick Alan Tabhan’s journey to Jakarta carrying the Philippine flag as the country’s top sommelier. Good luck, Patrick! 

Patrick showing us how its done.

From L-R: Eric Wang, Charmaine Wang, Joe Sriwarin, Pierre Addison, Tommy Lam, Bel Castro, John Hung