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For those of you who havenít met me rolling around Le DŻís Wines, my name is Yannick Benjamin. My passion for wine has played an important role in my life. I have been in the Restaurant business for over ten years and involved with wine for seven, working in places such as Le Cirque 2000, Jean Georges, Felidia, and Atelier at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. In all of these places, I have had the pleasure of tasting some truly magical wines. One of my goals is to share my many wine experiences with others.

On January 9th I will be taking part in the Best Sommelier Competition at the Essex house here in NYC. This is considered to be the Olympics of the sommelier industry. To stand the slightest chance of winning, I need to prepare for it with the same commitment and intensity as an athlete would, for a world class event. Each week, leading up to the big day, I will write about what I am currently doing to ready myself for the competition. I hope it will give you some insight into what it takes to compete.

This is where the fun begins... Sommelier competitions are usually set up in three sections, the first section being theory, the second, a mock service, and the third, the ever unpredictable blind tasting.

Here are a few the questions that could be asked on the test...

What are the three major wine regions of Slovenia?
What is the largest vineyard in The Netherlands?
What are the three main grapes for Cotnari?

If you can answer a multitude of questions like these, then youíre one third of the way there!

Iíll giving you the low-down on all the wine regions that Iím studying, where theyíre located, typical and more off-beat grape varietals, along with specific producers and their reputations. Iíll also be discussing the service aspect, and of course, how to prepare for a blind tasting, and explaining why it is such an important part of the event.

If anyone has any questions or words of encouragement, please e-mail Yannick

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