Former world champion sommelier Gerard Basset MS MW OBE has talked up the potential of Chinese sommeliers, saying he already knows some who could one day follow in his footsteps.
Basset spoke to DecanterChina.com after taking a new job as the first wine ambassador of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.
He praised the commitment level of a new generation of sommeliers emerging in China, saying that they are ‘very enthusiastic’ and ‘really passionate about what they are doing’.
‘I would love to train the Chinese sommelier to make them the Best Sommelier in the World, and I know two or three who could do it,’ said Basset, a French native who won the title himself in 2010.
‘Of course they need to spend a lot of time training, but with the right backup, they have the potential.’
But, Basset added that Chinese sommeliers need to travel a lot and broaden their horizon with different wines, as China doesn’t have enough international wines.
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La group began working with Basset last year in its first Best Sommelier Competition.
In his new role, Basset will attend the group’s second ‘wine summit’ in China, where he will sit on the judging panel for the competition again, as well as give a two-day seminar to sommeliers on different aspects of the job, including wine knowledge, service improvement and stock control.
He will also work with Yang Lu, the group’s corporate wine director, on enhancing the group’s wine programme.
Along with the many professional honours to his name, Basset is also one of the vice-chairs in the Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA).
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