From the Judge's Table: Insights from Ermoni Best Sommelier at The Inn at Mattei's Tavern

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15/04/2024 Navigating Wine's Future: Ermoni Best's Insights from Sommeliers Choice Awards

Ermoni Best, currently a sommelier at The Inn at Mattei's Tavern under Auberge Resorts Collection, brings an extensive background in the hospitality and beverage industry to the ever-evolving world of wine. With a resume that spans Michelin-starred establishments in both Chicago and Santa Barbara County, Best combines her expertise in sommelier certifications with a progressive approach toward sustainable business practices in wine. Her journey, which has now taken her to France to pursue an International Master's in Sustainable Business, underscores a commitment not just to understanding wine, but also to integrating sustainable business strategies within large wine corporations.

Ermoni is participating as a judge in the 6th edition of the Sommeliers Choice Awards. SCA is now open for entries, wine brands looking to elevate their presence in the on-premise sector are invited to participate before the April 24 deadline

At the heart of her practice is an alignment with the Sommeliers Choice Awards, where Best’s unique insights as a judge help shape the future of wine selections and offerings. Inviting brands looking to grow awareness in the on-premise sector to enter before April 24, the 6th edition of this competition provides a critical platform for brands to position their products in front of America's leading wine buyers and sommeliers. This is a crucial opportunity for wines to be evaluated by a panel that includes some of the most respected sommeliers, master sommeliers, and on-premise buyers across the U.S.

Best’s approach to judging is deeply influenced by her understanding of sustainability and a broad palate honed through diverse gastronomic experiences. This extensive background equips her with the ability to identify and understand emerging trends, often revealed through selections offered "by the glass" in various establishments—a telltale sign of evolving consumer preferences that ripple through the industry.

When judging wines, Best emphasizes the importance of balancing typicity, quality, value for money, and packaging. He notes that approachability is key; a wine must immediately appeal to consumers, suggesting that its complexity should be inviting rather than overwhelming. This balance is critical, especially in a competitive marketplace where the clarity of a wine's appeal can make or break its success on a wine list.

The impact of winning a medal at the Sommeliers Choice Awards can be significant, particularly for smaller or emerging wineries. According to Best, such recognition serves as a "considerable recommendation letter" from sommeliers, breaking barriers and enhancing awareness not only of the wineries themselves but also of the grape varietals and regions they represent. This can catalyze new trends and shift market dynamics favorably for the awarded brands.

Feedback from judges like Best is invaluable for entrants to the Sommeliers Choice Awards. He advocates for an open dialogue with producers to understand their choices, emphasizing that constructive feedback is not just about critiquing but also about appreciating the unique qualities of each wine, whether it fits a mainstream "by-the-glass" profile or appeals to a more nuanced wine enthusiast. This feedback, detailed in score breakdowns provided to entrants, helps winemakers refine their products and strategies.


With each wine blind-tasted for its food pair ability, typicity, quality, value, and packaging, and every panel chaired by a master sommelier, the judging at the Sommeliers Choice Awards is both rigorous and enlightening. The competition stands as a significant benchmark for on-premise buyers and sommeliers, aimed at enhancing the understanding of what makes wines compelling for inclusion on wine lists. For entrants, the feedback and recognition can be transformative, elevating their offerings and positioning them favorably in a competitive market.

The 2024 Sommeliers Choice Awards results are out! View the results here.