Nikki Weir - NZ Young Sommelier of the Year 2019
Nikki Weir, from Sid at The French Café, has won the NZSWP's NZ Young Sommelier of the Year 2019. Originally from Scotland, Nikki has been working in Auckland for some time and was runner-up in 2018.
How did you prepare for the competition? What challenges did you face?
I prepared with the help of Hiro, the Sommelier at my work. He got me to blind taste New Zealand wines each week for the month leading up to the competition, and kept me on my toes by randomly asking questions during service, so that I was able to think quickly while under pressure. I also read up on the NZ Winegrowers Annual Report 2018.
Which part of the competition was the most challenging? And why?
For me, the most challenging part of the competition was the third part of the service exam where I had to sell a customer 3 cases of a wine placed in front of me. I then had to comment on its cellaring potential. As a restaurant-based wine professional, this isn’t a task normally asked of me, and my sales ability had to come exclusively from the couple of tastes I had of the wine. However, although it was challenging, it was an interesting assignment that showed me the area I needed most work on for my future career.
What is your next professional challenge following your award?
My next challenge is the WSET Diploma in Wine, which I started two days ago. I am very excited to be the NZ Young Sommelier of the Year as I take my career forward over the next two years of study for my qualification.
What advice would you give to new competition candidates next year if they wish to be successful?
My advice would be to study the history of wine in New Zealand, as well as the current situation, and to focus on the winemakers and the winemaking aspects of the industry in addition to the service of wine.