Wikus Human, the head sommelier and beverage manager at Marble Restaurant in Rosebank has been named the Best Young Sommelier in South Africa.

With this new competition, the South African Sommeliers Association and Moët & Chandon aim to support and empower the next generation of professional sommeliers who share the joy and energy of wine and spirits.

“The standard for the inaugural Moët & Chandon Best Young Sommelier South Africa 2017 surprised all of us involved in judging and organising. with the very high competitive standard this year,” said Higgo Jacobs, chairman of the South African Sommeliers Association.

“I believe the winners here will make a comfortable transition to competing with the big guns in the Best Sommelier in South Africa competition next year. Wine service in South Africa has come a long way.”

Human, along with runners-up Pardon Taguzu of Aubergine Restaurant and Isabella Immenkamp of Somm, endured four rounds of rigorous theoretical tests and were judged by an expert panel on their ability to taste and identify spirits as well as standard service tasks, such as decanting service or sparkling wine service.

Human, Taguzu and Immenkamp displayed good overall wine knowledge of South African and international wines, in terms of region, viticulture and vinification, as well as knowledge of beers, ciders, spirits, water, coffee and tea.

Questions included topics on wine styles, regions of origin and terminology, wine label information, wine regulations and wine storage. Competitors were also tested on social skills as well as their ability to interact with the patron.

The judges included Higgo Jacobs, founding member and current chairman of the association; Xolani Mancotywa, Moët Hennessy private clients manager; Manuel Cabello the head sommelier at Ellerman House and executive board member of the association; Jean Vincent Ridon, the manager of the South African Sommelier Academy, ASI Sommelier and founder of the South African Wine Tasting Championships; Neil Grant, founding member and former chairman of the association; and Michael Crossley, a graduate of the Wine Judging Academy and a recipient of the esteemed Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne.

Human has secured a place in the Sommelier Level 2 course presented by the Sommelier Academy and an opportunity to compete in the Moët & Chandon Best Sommelier South Africa challenge in 2018. He also won a magnum of Moët & Chandon to toast his achievements. –Rosebank Killarney Gazette