Ivan Nikolić has claimed the crown of Best Sommelier of Serbia 2020. Dragisa Damljanovic, a sommelier for Norwegian Cruise lines, was runner up, while Aleksandar Popov finished third.
The challenges he faced were anything but ordinary. For starters, the contest had originally been scheduled for March but was delayed due to the pandemic. Health rules also prohibited gatherings of more than ten people indoors, and required face masks and at least 1.5 m distance between all persons. Even so, candidates were required to demonstrate theoretical and practical abilities in blind tasting and beer identification, as well as half-bottle sparkling wine service and beverage identification only by smell.
Nikolić, owner and sommelier at Belgrade’s Wine Spot wine bar, was no stranger to the competition, having finished 2nd in the Serbian Sommelier Competition 2017. “This title of Best Sommelier of Serbia is a confirmation for all my hard work and effort these past nine years, and a great obligation to work even harder and keep improving until I become the best version of myself,” Nikolić said after the contest.
The competition was held 19 July at the Hyatt Regency Belgrade, but was closed to the public. A live broadcast was streamed on the Serbian Sommelier Association – SERSA`s YouTube channel: