As many parts of the world begin stirring back to normality, I find myself thinking about a fantastic wine here in my home country of Argentina.
It’s called “El Gran Enemigo,” which means ‘The Great Enemy.’ The name pays homage to the biggest battle we all face: the battle against ourselves. The battle to stay hungry and curious, to grow and improve, to never become complacent or simply settle.
To me, that’s the beauty of ASI’s many contests, from the smallest local ones to the largest international ones. Each offers a wonderful example of how failure is not the opposite of success, but a crucial part of it instead. If you’re ever raised kids, you know they need to fall countless times while learning to walk.
And that’s the real value of these contests. Of course they significantly impact the careers of the finalists and winners. Yet, for each new ambassador that we crown, there are also hundreds, maybe thousands of other somms who train, taste and study. Even if they do not ultimately prevail, every competitor comes out of the event with greater knowledge of wine — and perhaps themselves — as well as new friendships, a broader network and insights into the culture and the gastronomy of the hosting country.
In a time when our classic function of table service is limited, there is perhaps no finer and nobler way to raise the overall level of sommellerie in the world.
So let’s all look forward to the upcoming Best Sommelier of Europe & Africa contest in Cyprus, the first major contest since lockdown. What better chance to highlight the many different faces and places our members come from, and the role we all have to play in making the world a better and brighter place, one glass at a time?