On 18 and 19 October, the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix 2019 contest to determine the best wine experts in the Baltics will take place in Riga, with participants from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia competing for the title of Best Sommelier and Best Young Sommelier. Vana Tallinn is the most prestigious wine expert competition in the Baltic states, taking place for the fourteenth time.
Each of the countries will send three contestants to compete for the title of the Baltics’ Best Sommelier, and one contestant for the title of the Baltics’ Best Young Sommelier. The participants will include wine experts who have won sommelier competitions in their own countries. Among those, Estonia will be represented by Ketri Leis; Narimantas Miežys will come from Lithuania, and Kaspars Reitups will be one of the Latvian contestants. Top wine experts from other European countries are traditionally invited to make this even more competitive, and this year, there will be special guest wine experts from Sweden and Denmark.
The competition will take place over two days, during which the wine experts will demonstrate their knowledge and skills during theoretical and practical tasks. The Baltics’ Best Sommelier will be chosen out of four finalists, competing on the last day of the event, making recommendations on pairing various wines and foods, and serving them; these wine experts will also show their expertise in decanting and serving wine. They will have to demonstrate their theoretical knowledge through question-and-answer sessions and a few surprise tests yet to be revealed. The contest will also determine the Baltics’ Best Young Sommelier. Wine experts under 25 will compete in this category.
‘Hosting the Baltic sommelier championship in Riga is a great honour and responsibility. Vana Tallinn Grand Prix has demonstrated itself to be a world-class competition, in terms of both how well the participants are prepared, and the tasks they must carry out. We set higher competition standards every year, and our competition has undoubtedly reached the level of European and global events, with this year not being an exception,’ president of the Latvian Sommelier Association Jānis Kaļķis said.
The Latvian National Museum of Art has been selected as the venue for the competition’s finals. Last year’s event took place at the Kadriorg Art Museum in Estonia, where victory over difficult opponents and the Grand Prix title were won by Ronalds Pētersons from Latvia, who was also the Baltics’ Best Sommelier in 2013. Martynas Pravilonis from Lithuania took second place, while Ketri Leis from Estonia came third.
Vana Tallinn Baltic Sommelier Grand Prix is organised since 2006, by AS Liviko, in partnership with wine expert associations from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The competition, named in honour of the popular Estonian liqueur Vana Tallinn, was originally intended to promote a culture of responsible alcohol use, in which professional wine experts play an essential role.