Said to test the skills and testosterone levels of male wine waiters under the most extreme conditions, the challenge is divided into six stages. To the victor the spoils, a luxuriant chest hair wig, and a cable TV series involving lots of shouting at the camera, to the losers a jeroboam of non-vintage Liebfraumilch.
The candidates will be expected to excel in the following disciplines:
“The Quick Pour”. “Roaderer (sic) Rollerblading” amongst an obstacle course of 15 tables pulling champagne corks out with their teeth, singing the lyrics to the Carpenter’s Top of the World whilst dispensing fizz to all and sundry – preferably in their glasses.
Creating the ultimate gangsta champagne cocktail. Judging this section will be Dom Dom Ru, MC Mumm, L. Pee, Snoop Salon Salon, the Rock Steady Krug, and the Wu-Taittinger Clan. Passing the yak and Cristal in a single glass will be one of the mandatory disciplines. Points will be deducted if straws and multi-coloured parasols are omitted. All cocktails must be made with ice (diamonds) rather than ice (frozen water).
The chest-beating Château Latour challenge. Sommeliers will each be asked to sell a bottle of the Pauillac 1st growth to a table of unwilling customers. If they succeed, they must pound their pectoral muscles with their fists and ululate for precisely three minutes and 45 seconds.
Serving the late Michael Winner a bottle of wine in a hot air balloon. The winner (no pun intended) is the sommelier who allows the balloon to reach the greatest height before hurling the auteur of Deathwish 4 out of the aforementioned dirigible. Calm down, my dear, it’s only a game!
The pronunciation test. Finalists will be examined on their ability to make Merlot sound as close to a three-syllable word or Lloyd Grossman attempting to swallow a giant octopus.
Finally, food and wine matching to a menu devised by Ferran Adria’s gothic imagination*
Emulsion of angels’ wings
Muttering oysters, seaweed fritters, ocean essence
Mock parrot, buried treasure, devils’ islands, edible sand
Existential chocolate ideas
*Extra marks will be awarded in a half-assed fashion.
The Natural Wine Sommelier Challenge
An alternative version is being held in Copenhagen. It will feature some of the following tests listed below in conjunction with the now traditional “blind unicorn wheedling session”. The winner will receive a promissory note that they may be considered for a single bottle of a Stephane Bernaudeau wine in about ten years’ time, or preferably when hell freezes over.
- Customer worthiness evaluation. Sommeliers must judge whether a hypothetical customer who orders a bottle of Savagnin from Overnoy or a Chardonnay from Miroirs is deemed acceptable of that honour. “But it’s our last bottle” is not a viable excuse not to serve the wine, nor are customer bribes, or offers to make the establishment famous on social media, allowed.
- Summoning the candy wine. Contestants will be expected to recite the Susucaru backwards three times whilst inhaling volcanic sulphur fumes, until a vision of Frank Cornelissen emerges from the mirror and straight into their Instagram feed.
- Cult fiction exercise. The contestants will need to devise a back story for a small Loire producer, one which makes the wine infinitely desirable to hipsters. Extra points awarded for mentions of sandstone amphorae, wine globes, animal traction, unique terroir, and planting soft fruit trees between the vines. The word “uber” must be used at least three times in the narrative and the term “sick” is equally obligatory. The winner in this challenge is the one who persuades the customer to sacrifice a goat in honour of tasting a wine that doesn’t actually exist.
- Pairing challenge. Sommeliers should attempt to pair a series of mousey wines with different cheeses, taking care that the flavours annihilate each other completely. Easy, squeezy, cheesy tubes of Primula Original have been accepted into the competition at late notice.
- Just-in-time written challenge. All contestants must place an order for their annual allocations of unobtainable Jura wine, to be loaded onto wooden carts drawn by donkeys and then taken to some remote port and finally transferred to tea clippers which will sail under the caprices of the wind to their intended destination. Sommeliers must calculate whether they will receive it this side of Xmas, total savings of carbon emissions (if any) after the donkeys have been fed, and the amount of virtue signalling expended to make this a truly worthwhile exercise.
- Natural feng shui challenge or the tao of tasting. Sommeliers will have to ensure that a room is specially prepared for a group of visiting Japanese wine importers. Slivers of cork must be artfully placed in the corners; the tasting table must be situated on a diagonal from the entrance door; all power sockets must be covered up, and a bell must be rung at regular intervals to calculate the energy levels and natural vibrations of the room. Marks will be deducted for lack of transcendence.