ASI’s Best Sommelier of the World 2019 Marc Almert has joined the Education Committee. This represents a break from tradition, as past ASI world champions have typically selected to be a part of the Sommelier Contests Commission. Almert however regards his choice not only logical, but in the best interests of the organization: “There’s a sense of openness and inclusion in the rising generation of sommeliers that we love to see and hope to have reflected in all levels of the ASI. And that can be accomplished through a dedication to education at the institutional level.”
In addition to professional knowledge and gravitas as reigning champion, Almert also brings practical hands-on experience as an active sommelier working the floor. “The Sommelier culture is changing. Our job is to continue making wine approachable. Furthermore, ASI is also working on sharing the knowledge about competitions globally, and has taken many steps already in this direction through initiatives such as the explanatory video from Gerard Basset to live streaming of the contests in order to better prepare candidates from around the globe. And although we have just started working together, I hope to continue building in this direction.”
The Education Committee has been led by Soren Polonius since 2017. The stated mission is to establish consistent standards for all ASI activities, especially contests and exams, around the globe. A conscious effort is made to include sommeliers from different parts of the world and levels of experience. This helps ensure that its guidelines and materials are both approachable and practical to sommeliers in the field.
Polonius expressed pride in the hard work of the committee, which is currently assessing existing grids for the ASI exam as well as those used in competitions. This task necessitates cooperation with both the Exam and validation with the Sommelier Contests Commission. So far the process has been relatively smooth, as all sides have a vested interest in building more transparency, Polonius says: “Our goal is to shed some light on what we are doing as an association regarding examinations and competitions. More transparency on these details will help make us more attractive as an organization. And by doing so, attract more members and partners.”
Almert and Polonius are joined on the Education Committee by Michelle McCarthy, Marcos Flores, Tommy Lam, Kristjan Peäske, Carole Stein, Celia Hay, Fredrik Hierner and George Loukas.