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The world's top sommelier crowned in Paris in dramatic, emotion-packed championship

Raimonds Tomsons of Latvia, smells at a glass of white wine during the Best Sommelier of the World in Paris, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. Raimonds Tomsons finished first ahead of Nina Jensen of Denmark and Reeze Choi of China. (Michel Euler/AP)
Raimonds Tomsons of Latvia, smells at a glass of white wine during the Best Sommelier of the World in Paris, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. Raimonds Tomsons finished first ahead of Nina Jensen of Denmark and Reeze Choi of China. (Michel Euler/AP)

As Americans watched the Superbowl, another contest — fraught with emotion and drama — was playing out on the other side of the Atlantic. The Association De La Sommelierie Internationale crowned the world’s best sommelier, or wine steward.

It’s a rigorous contest that requires more than 10,000 hours of study, nerves of steel and a palate so refined that contestants can pinpoint the origin of the wine’s grapes with a swish and a sniff. The winner, who rose above the other 70 contestants was Latvian Raimonds Tomsons. And among the surprises was that hopeful Pascaline LePeletier, France’s top sommelier in 2018, was eliminated before the final.

Host Robin Young talks to Alice Feiring, who attended the contest. She started the Feiring Line: The Natural Wine Newsletter and authored five wine books, including the recent “To Fall in Love, Drink This: A Wine Writer’s Memoir.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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