Jo Wessels, B.Sc. International Wine Business graduate from South Africa, came 7th in the ASI Best Sommelier of the World Contest 2023, which was held in Paris in February 2023. A total of 68 candidates from 65 countries competed for the title. In the end, Latvia’s Raimonds Tomsons took home the trophy.
Every three years, the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) hosts the prestigious contest where the candidates have to demonstrate their abilities and knowledge in written tests and blind tastings, followed by service tasks to assess their hospitality skills. Over the course of the contest, Jo Wessels advanced to the semi-final, which was designed to test the candidates' wine expertise and tasting skills. In addition, the sommeliers had to demonstrate high-level service skills and their ability to remain calm under stressful conditions.
Recalling his performance in the contest, the Geisenheim graduate told Wines of South Africa: "It was a great privilege for me to represent my home country of South Africa in this prestigious circle. It's been a unique opportunity to showcase our wine country, our world-class gastronomy and genuine hospitality. I have enjoyed interacting with colleagues from all over the world. We may be competitive, but more than that, we are united by an extraordinary passion for our profession and an irrepressible thirst for knowledge."
Wessels, whose professional stations include renowned restaurants such as OPUS V in Mannheim Restaurant Ente in Wiesbaden, continues: "Preparing for such a high-profile competition is demanding and time-consuming. But at the same time, it is an incentive to delve deeper into the subject matter – from wine to spirits, non-alcoholic alternatives in conjunction with food recommendations and service under time pressure. It is a sporting achievement that is required. Any competitor here can be proud to have reached this league."