Association de la Sommellerie Internationale
The ASI //
ASI was founded over 50 years ago as an umbrella organisation to raise the bar for restaurant service professionals internationally. While its historical roots are in Europe, ASI is now represented on 6 continents.
ASI’s members are not individual sommeliers, but rather national sommelier associations themselves. With 61 national associations as full members and 5 observer countries, it is uniquely positioned to drive conversation within the industry at the international, national, and local levels.
In recent years, a renewed focus has been placed on education at all levels, both in the classroom and through the crucible of sommelier contests. Or in the words of our motto: Learn. Challenge. Compete.
Where we’ve been
“ASI was a little bit like the European Union in the beginning, today it is more like the United Nations.” – Markus Del Monego (ASI Best Sommelier of the World 1998)
Association de la Sommellerie Internationale emerged from a momentous gathering of sommelier visionaries in Reims, France on 3–4 June 1969. In retrospect, the changes ushered in by the representatives from four national organisations, as well as numerous observer countries, were both obvious and unprecedented.
On the face of it, the signatories simply committed to working together to promote common goals and standards. The new organization would make its headquarters in the cradle of fine wine culture, Paris. Yet by design its eyes were to be raised beyond just France. For example, the premiere of the organization’s signature event, the ASI Best Sommelier of the World competition, was held that same year not in France, but rather in Brussels.
History has proven their approach to be a wise one. Beyond the tastevin, the classic symbol of the profession, there had historically been little to distinguish the profile of the sommelier from what English politely called a “wine waiter.” Now, with the benefit of ASI’s offers of better primary training, continuing education, and opportunities for personal growth, the sommelier could assume a position at the hub of a restaurant’s work: building memorable dining experiences.
In the intervening 50 years, ASI has welcomed into the fold national associations from far beyond the Old World, stretching to the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Africa. With each new member, ASI’s reach has expanded, raising the bar for sommeliers in one new land after another.
And yet the reverse is also true. With each new member — now totalling 61 national associations and 5 observers — ASI has gained new perspectives on wine and wine culture, on restaurant service and the meaning of service excellence.
What we stand for
ASI is entrusted from the roots up with a clear mission:
* To promote the establishment of one central sommelier association per nation
* To coordinate tools and measures to advance the profession
* To educate consumers on the role of the sommelier
* To defend the ethics of the profession
These goals are implemented by its elected Board of Directors, composed of the international president, a secretary general and a deputy secretary general, a treasurer and a deputy treasurer, as well as four continental vice-presidents. They in turn report on their activities at a yearly General Assembly, attended by ASI members (represented by the presidents of the various national associations).
ASI has its legal headquarters in Paris, France.
What we do
Today’s sommeliers are expected to add values at all levels of the restaurant. They must be warm and insightful counsellors at the tableside. Businesspeople and marketers, capable of managing the inner workings of the restaurant industry. And above all else: they must have a burning passion for service.
ASI fosters excellence in these areas through a three-pronged approach:
Learn. Challenge. Compete.
Many sommeliers acquire their initial base of knowledge through specialised schools and vocational training programmes. Yet wine is a living field, constantly changing with each vintage, technological advancement, and change in consumer preference. Floor experience and personal travel are thus also essential parts of professional maturation.
There are as many paths to the profession of sommelier as there are sommeliers themselves. Some countries offer specialised schools and vocational training, while in other places sommeliers have historically learned on the job.
ASI has developed uniform standards of knowledge and ethics to ensure that a sommelier in any of its member organisations can rightfully call themselves service professionals at an international level. Just as importantly, it has established a systematic set of modules and further learning opportunities including bootcamps, tasting grids, and expert-led tutorials, to help those aspiring to a higher standard.
The initial rise to the title of sommelier is only the beginning of the journey. ASI provides numerous channels of continuing education and opportunities to encourage sommeliers to broaden their own horizons.
The most prominent of these is the ASI Diploma system, split into two levels. Offered in three languages at locations around the world, it challenges sommeliers to push the boundaries of their existing knowledge, and to engage in collaborative study with their colleagues. This mix of self-improvement and professional networking is an essential and desirable factor in global sommellerie.
Formal competition proved one of the most effective tools in drawing attention to the association’s goals. The first ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest was held in 1969 and saw Armand Melkonian crowned as champion. Currently held every three years, the event has helped provide a focus and shared base of experience for generations of modern sommeliers.
Just as importantly, those winners at every level — local, national, and international — are invited to join the ranks of competition and educational committees throughout ASI and its member nations.
This ensures that the best and brightest, and in particular those battle-tested in front of the bright lights of competition, can contribute their insights to training the generations that follow, either at an institutional level or as direct mentors. Reigning ASI Best Sommelier of the World Marc Almert, for example, now sits on the educational committee, even as he also provides direct mentoring to young sommeliers looking to show their mettle.
1969 – 1972
1972 – 1975
1975 – 1979
1979 – 1980
1980 – 1983
1983 – 1986
1986 – 1990
1990 – 1996
1996 – 2004
2004 – 2007
2007 – 2010
2010 – 2017
2017 – 2020
2020 – …
Executive Board //
ASI Committees //
- Director: Claire Berticat* (Belgium)
- Social Media and Communication: Xeniya Volosnikova
- ASI Mag Editor: Mark DeWolf (Canada)
- Contest communication manager: Liora Levi (Norway)
- Translation support; ASI Ambassador: Michèle Aström Chantôme (Morocco)
- Press Officer: Barbara Wanner (Germany)
- Translation support: Manuel Negrete (Mexico)
- Director: Higgo Jacobs (South Africa)
- Gérard Devos (Belgium)
- Michel Hermet (France)
- Georgios Kassianos (Cyprus)
Ethics & Compliance
- Director: Ricardo Grellet (Chile)
- Samuil Angelov (Finland)
- Alba E. H. Hough (Iceland)
- Higgo Jacobs (South Africa)
- Renata Moreti (Chile)
- Director: Heleen Boom (Netherlands)
- Sarah Andrew (Australia)
- Alba E. H. Hough (Iceland)
- Jorald Julie (Mauritius)
- Jan Konetzki (UK)
- Mirko Pastorelli (Italy)
- Gianni Tartari (Brazil)
Liaison Officer for Sommelier Contests – Education – Exam Committees
- Tim Vollerslev (Denmark)
- Co-Directors: Olivier Poussier (France) & Shinya Tasaki (Japan)
- Liaison Officer: Georgios Kassianos (Cyprus)
- Coordination: Saiko Tamura-Soga (Japan)
- Logistics: Dejan Zivkoski (Serbia)
- Paolo Basso (Switzerland)
- Markus Del Monego (Germany)
- Serge Dubs (France)
- Andreas Larsson (Sweden)
- Paz Levinson (Argentina / France)
- Heidi Makinen (Finland)
- Veronique Rivest (Canada)
- Arvid Rosengren (Sweden)
- Director: Sören Polonius (Sweden)
- Marc Almert (Germany)
- Nelson Chow (Hong Kong)
- Celia Hay (New Zealand)
- Maria Laura Ortiz (Argentina)
- Beáta Vlnková (Slovakia)
- Director: Giuseppe Vaccarini (Italy)
- Coordination: Michèle Chantôme (Morocco)
- Logistics: Alberto Merico (Italy) / Jean-Vincent Ridon (Zimbabwe)
- Leo D’Addazio (Venezuela)
- Andreas Matthidis (Greece)
- Edwin Raben (Netherlands)
- Saiko Tamura-Soga (Japan)
- Romané Basset (UK)
- Kristjan Markii (Estonia)
- Ene Ojaveski (Estonia)