The 14th “Vana Tallinn Grand Prix 2019” competition for sommeliers in the Baltic States was held this weekend in Riga. Grand Prix went to the Latvian representative Kaspars Reitups and Ketri Leis from Estonia was the runner-up. Title of the Best Young Sommelier went to Kristijonas Valančiūnas from Lithuania.
“This year’s assignments, especially in the semi-final, were very difficult and the competition was very strong, so it is a great honour to have been named the winner. The final was very dynamic, but there were also disciplines which required demonstrating routine skills, such as communicating and interacting with guests. I prepared for the competition seriously and I’m very glad that the hard work paid off. My next major goal is to represent Latvia at the European Championships in Cyprus in 2020,” said the Grand Prix winner Kaspars Reitups.
Baltic countries were represented in the competition with three participants from each country, in addition to the invited contestants from Denmark, Sweden and Poland. The Best Sommelier in the Baltics was chosen from four finalists, who, on the final day of the competition, competed in advising on various wine and food pairings and serving suggestions, demonstrating their wine decanting and serving skills. They also had to prove their theoretical knowledge in a Q&A round and demonstrate their skill in not only recognising and describing wines, but also other various traditional alcoholic drinks from around the world.
“Every year the bar is set higher and higher both in terms of the organisation of the competition, as well as the level of the competitors. Without a doubt Baltic sommeliers can compete on equal ground with sommeliers from traditional wine nations, such as Spain, France and Italy, as well as at sommelier world championships,” explained Jānis Kaļķis, President of the Latvian Sommelier Association and member of the competition jury.
“Hosting a competition such as this is a great honour and responsibility, as it brings an important contribution to the development of the sommelier culture in the Baltic States. It is a pleasure to see both experienced professionals, as well as newcomers take part in the competition every year, proving that sommelier culture will continue to develop in the Baltics also in the future,” said Genādijs Kļepikovs, Member of the Board at “Liviko” Ltd.
“Vana Tallinn Grand Prix” has been organised since 2006 by AS “Liviko” in cooperation with the Sommelier Associations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The competition, which bears the name of the legendary Estonian liqueur Vana Tallinn, was originally created in order to promote responsible alcohol consumption, where professional sommeliers play an important role.
Photos by Artūrs Martinovs