The Ruinart Sommelier Challenge 2020

2020 celebrates the 10th year of Ruinart’s Sommelier Challenge, with 20 editions being run across 13 countries worldwide.  Created by Ruinart’s Chef de Caves Frédéric Panaïotis, the initiative was launched first in the United States as a training and mentoring programme to support Sommelier education.  The blind tasting component of each competition day challenges participants on their tasting skills and abilities to communicate on their findings, and the accompanying seminar is a deep and detailed dive into a winemaking subject of Panaïotis’ choice; past topics have included ‘Phys Behind The Fizz’, ‘Rosé in the making’ and ‘Oxidation versus Reduction’.

“When we first launched the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, our ambition was to bring to sommeliers the kind of technical knowledge which can’t be easily found in books, on the internet or at classic wine tastings. This Challenge was meant to select the greatest talents, but also to help educating, developing and promoting the wine community. We also wanted to bring a unique experience and create a human adventure, unforgettable as much as aspirational, for the winners.  After 10 years, from only one country in 2010 to now 13 in 2020, we’ve managed to build a fantastic community of sommeliers.” explains Frédéric Panaïotis.

Over the last decade, 88 editions of the competition have been run across 18 cities in 12 different countries, attracting over 1,700 up-and-coming Sommeliers.  Japan joins the programme for the first time in 2020, with sessions in Tokyo and Osaka

“Japan has so many of young talented sommeliers and given the strong connection between Ruinart and this country, where gastronomy reaches the highest level of refinement, it was only natural that the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge would take place there. No doubt that it will quickly become a must-attend event this champagne-loving crowd.”  Adds Frédéric Panaïotis.

A winner is selected at each edition by a panel of esteemed judges, and the prize is a four-day educational tour of the Champagne region hosted by Panaïotis.  Past UK winners include Gareth Ferreira (2016), Julia Sewell (2017), Tony Lecuroux (2018) and Jitka Auermüllerová (2019), who says of her experience: “The day of the Challenge was amazing – a really challenging wine flight for the blind tasting, and then Fred’s entertaining and ‘geeky’ Masterclass, which was my favourite part of the day.  I learnt so much during the winners’ trip, and was privileged to be able to do so in the company of some truly talented people from around the world.  The whole experience was a unique opportunity, from beginning to end.”

Today, the UK edition of the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, now in its fifth year, is open for entries.  To enter the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, please visit  The entry deadline for the seminar and competition is 13th February, and UK judges Frédéric Panaïotis, Ronan Sayburn MS and Jitka Auermüllerová will then select 30 finalists to take part in the blind tasting and seminar on Monday 24th February in central London.


To enter the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge: CLICK HERE