British Columbia’s Somm of the Year is Ready to Rumble!

Shane Taylor,  a conversation with CAPS Ontario

With all the interest in the Best Ontario Sommelier Competition – (get your tickets here) – we wanted to check in on sommelier competitions on the national level.

CAPS Media director Kim Gertler journeyed to the Vancouver International Wine Festival where he met with British Columbia’s Sommelier of the year.

“Sommeliers are very important to the Vancouver International Wine Festival. Our awards lunch sells out in a flash. Fifty restaurants are honoured at the wine program excellence awards, so usually the wine directors and sommeliers are there.  Plus somms attend our afternoon trade tastings. The BC Somm of the year is of course, chosen by CAPS, BC.”  - Harry Hertscheg, Executive Director, Vancouver International Wine Festival

BC’s Somm of the Year is Shane Taylor, wine director of Cin Cin Restaurant who will compete against somms from coast to coast – including the winner of the Best Ontario Sommelier competition – at the Canadian National Sommelier Competition, set to take place in Vancouver in September 2017.

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BC Sommelier of the year, Shane Taylor


Give us some background about yourself and your work in wine:

I was born and raised on Prince Edward Island and got the wine bug when I was working at Topper’s at The Wauwinet on Nantucket Island. They had the Grand Award from Wine Spectator (still do) and I thought the Sommelier was the coolest guy in the room. I said to myself “How do I become like him?” 15 years later I am still trying!  

Were you at the Vancouver International Wine Festival this year?

I attend every year and it is always a fantastic event. It is a “who’s who” of both Vancouver and International wine folk and I always learn so much. The theme was Canada this year and it is very impressive to see the quality of our wines.

How do you account for the incredible support that the industry and general public accord to local BC wines?

If the wines weren’t amazing the support would be fickle at best. We are making world-class wines in our backyard and locals appreciate and admire that.

Tell us about the competition and process of winning BC Somm of the year:

The competition is intense and for me the goal is always to make the final 3. The grueling written exam delves into the obscure and tests you on both depth and breadth of your wine knowledge. Making the final 3 thrusts you onto centre stage and you are trying to outpoint the competition. You need to keep your wits about you and not succumb to the nerve-racking pressure. A battle of wits and nerves ensues!

How do you prepare for a competition?

Theory, theory and more theory! You need to hit the books hard to make it to the final 3. Even when you make the finals it still comes down to theory. You need to retain the info but also be able to use it in a practical manner.

How you are ramping up for the nationals?

I am continuing to hit the books. I have my Master Sommelier Theory exam in July so the timing is perfect. As always my goal is to make the final 3. My French is weak so I am taking French courses so if I am fortunate enough to make the final 3 I can compete without embarrassing myself by calling a madam “a lobster” in en Francais!

Tell us about your other interests or obsessions.

My obsession is wine and becoming a better sommelier. I am also teaching my French Bulldog to open a bottle of wine, he is French you know!

Tell us about your best wine moment or biggest fail ever?

My biggest moment and fail are one and the same. Finishing in second place at the BC Sommelier Competition twice in a row wasn’t easy. You are so close and yet so far! Finally having the stars align and winning it this year was an amazing wine moment!


Best Ontario Sommelier Competition 2017

Ontario’s epic wine challenge will culminate on March 5th, with a single sommelier being proclaimed the very best in Ontario. Come and join the best and brightest in Ontario’s wine world for a fantastic wine and food tasting … while you watch the competitors go head to head. Be there to see who gets to go to the nationals.

Get your tickets here: Best Ontario Sommeliers Competition 2017