The world’s best wine waiter was crowned in Japan on Friday, at the culmination of a three-day competition attracting entrants from around the globe.
Paolo Basso, from Switzerland, was hoisted into the air as judges in Tokyo awarded him first place in a ceremony in front of several thousand spectators that was carried live on Japanese national television.
Basso, who works at Conca Balla in Vacallo in Switzerland, beat off competition from fellow finalists Belgian Aristide Spies and Canadian Véronique Rivest.
The 47-year-old takes the title previously held by Gerard Basset, who won the 2010 competition in Chile competing for Britain.
Entrants from 54 countries had been tested over three days of events designed to measure their skills marrying wines to foods and serving demanding customers.
Contestants from Australia, Brazil, Indonesia and Sweden were among those participating in the event, which has been held 14 times since it started in 1969.
“A good sommelier not only has to have good knowledge of wine, but he also needs to be able to put customers at ease and know what to do to let them enjoy the food,” explained Serge Dubs, chairman of the jury and a former champion.