by Sally Warburton

CAPS Ontario – Best Ontario Sommelier Competition 2019

Sunday, April 14 was an exciting day for the wine-loving community. CAPS Ontario held its Best Ontario Sommelier Competition 2019 at the Arcadian Court, on the 8th floor of the Simpson Tower, Bay Street, Toronto. People in the hospitality industry, wine connoisseurs, restaurant owners, those wishing to learn more about wine and friends and family supporting those in the wine competition were there.

The event was open to anyone interested – tickets were available for purchase. A multitude of wineries was represented – wine was explained and sampled. There were delicious food samplings at different stations. CAPS Ontario was a wine event for pros, trade, and amateurs with a full day of activities. The event is CAPS’ most prominent and best choice of wine and food event and is the biggest event of its kind in the province.
This year a new event took place, the Wine Tasting Challenge. CAPS partnered with Brock University and its Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute. Guests enjoyed doing a blind taste test along with the pros.
The Best Ontario Sommelier Competition is the favourite event for the CAPS community. The event started at 11 am with wine sampling paired with food sampling; this was the International Wine and Food Tasting Fair. The various wine companies explained in detail their wines. The companies represented were VQA Wines of Ontario, Wines of New Zealand, Wines of Argentina, Wines of South Africa, Wines of California, Wines of New York, Robert Mondavi Winery, Napa Valley Vintners, Wines of Germany, Inniskillin Wines, The Vancouver International Wine Festival and gala dinner partner, Lifford Wine & Spirits. Whether a wine expert or a novice, there was something for everyone to learn.

From 1:15 pm to 5:15 pm – The top five sommeliers competed in front of a live audience. Competitors were asked to live theory questions. They provided service to ‘customers’ at two separate tables – imitating a restaurant scene with ‘guests’ at their table ordering wine and asking questions about the wine. Then the competitors were given tasting challenges where they had to describe the type of wine, where it was from and the exact name of the wine. Competitors showed their wine knowledge, their finesse of their serving skills and their ability to taste and identify wines. All very nerve-racking for the sommelier competitors! It’s one thing to do an exam, and another to do an exam in front of a big live audience!!
The winner of the Best Ontario Sommelier Competition 2019 was José Luis Fernández of the Hamilton Golf and Country Club. Mr. Fernández skills shone through when competing against the four other finalists in the four-hour competition which took place in front of the live audience.
After the excitement of the Ontario Best Sommelier competition, there was time to see the raffle prizes and to bid on silent auction items during the pre-gala reception on the lower level. Guests had the opportunity to do a ‘walkaround tasting’ where they sampled wines of the world in addition to excellent VQA Ontario wines.
Ontario’s Best Sommelier was celebrated at the gala awards dinner starting at 6:30 pm and featuring on-stage presentation of prizes. The event concluded at 9:45 pm. The Arcadian Court is a beautiful location for such a special occasion. A very proud and exciting fair for the CAPS community! A truly wonderful experience.

CAPS is Canada’s sommeliers’ organization providing activities and programs for the sommelier community. Throughout the year CAPS supports competitions, professional development and industry events. CAPS has been promoting wine culture and services in Ontario for the past 30 years.

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