The best British wine waiter is French and female

Champagne Ruinart has sponsored the most important sommelier competition in the UK for the last 15 years and this year, for the first time, the winner is a woman, Claire Thevenot of the Hotel du Vin et Bistro, Winchester.
There were 210 entrants from whom 15 regional winners were chosen to perform a wide range of tasks including blind tasting, food and wine matching and – the clincher apparently – pouring a magnum of Ruinart rosé into 16 equally-filled glasses without revisiting any.
Nicolas Clerc of London’s Milestone Hotel and Jean-Marie Pratt of Le Manoir aux Quat-Saisons outside Oxford were second and third respectively. All three surnames suggest that sommelier expertise is still a French preserve but I’m delighted that so many young French wine enthusiasts are crossing the Channel to escape the rigid hierarchy of the French restaurant business and, presumably, experience the wealth of wines produced outside France. Eventually, I assume, many of them will return to France to promulgate a much broader vision of wine than has so far been the norm in French restaurants and the French wine business.
Claire Thevenot will be a strong candidate to go on to represent the UK in the world sommelier championships. There are so many female sommeliers in the US, it is surely only a matter of time before a woman represents the US too.