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Photo for: Exploring Excellence: Insights from Judge Savvas Symeonidis at the London Wine Competition 2024


Exploring Excellence: Insights from Judge Savvas Symeonidis at the London Wine Competition 2024

Unveiling the Essence of Wine Evaluation, Trends, and Passion

In the bustling world of wine connoisseurs and enthusiasts, the London Wine Competition stands as a beacon of excellence. Celebrating its 7th edition, this prestigious event brings together seasoned professionals and passionate individuals deeply immersed in the art of wine. Among these luminaries is Judge Savvas Symeonidis, a distinguished figure whose expertise and discerning palate have left an indelible mark on the competition. In this exclusive interview, Judge Symeonidis shares his insights into what sets the London Wine Competition apart, the intricacies of wine evaluation, emerging trends in the industry, and the sheer pleasure of indulging in fine wines. Join us as we unravel the world of wines through the discerning eyes of a true aficionado.

With the London Wine Competition in its 7th edition, what, in your opinion, sets this competition apart from others in the industry?

The diversity of products as well as the clarity of the judging process. It's very important to try side-by-side, blind, wines of similar profile and truly put them to the test regardless of price point. Exactly like some should be deciding to list wines on their respective sites.

Could you share a memorable experience from a past London Wine Competition judging panel that truly impressed you?

Ah, every year it's the same feeling of being surrounded by paragons of the wine world. Meeting new people who share the same passion for wine, with their wealth of knowledge and experience is definitely my best take from the competition. 

Tips for wine brands on how they can promote or market the wins from the competition?

Use every social media platform you can and tag LWC as much as possible. Your network is your net worth.

When judging the London Wine Competition, what do you personally look for when giving a quality score?

I'm looking for quality, typicity, and finesse as much as power. It's all about balance and how the wine compares to my experience from tasting other ones of similar profile. I appreciate winemakers who are not afraid to experiment otherwise everything would taste the same.

What trends do you foresee shaping the wine industry in 2024, and how can brands stay relevant and innovative in this dynamic landscape?

Especially post-pandemic, people opt for quality over quantity. There's an increasing trend for organic wines that are as natural as possible and of a sustainable pedigree. Non or low-alcohol wines are being more and more requested lately also. Listen to your target audience and try to meet their needs.

As the London Wine Competition celebrates its 7th edition, what excites you the most about being part of this prestigious event?

I can't wait to try more wines, train my palate in blind, and get to meet new professionals in the industry.

Why according to you brands should enter in London Wine Competition?

They should enter LWC because of the clarity of the process and the degree of professionalism of the individuals taking part in the judging panel. We all have zero personal interest apart from making wines that are truly worth it, stand out.

Outside of your professional life, do you enjoy hobbies or interests that align with your passion for wine, such as wine pairing, home winemaking, or visiting vineyards?

I do make some beer at home and visit vineyards as often as I can spare. However, I end up just drinking wine a lot more frequently than that. I recently started my own collection of bottles to keep in a wine fridge in my living room. Can't wait to run out of space so I can get another!

Do you have a favorite wine or wine varietal that you enjoy in your leisure time, and can you share any unique ways you like to savor it?

I do enjoy Chasselas lately when spotted on a wine list. It feels like a perfect combination of dry Riesling and Grüner Veltliner another two grape varieties that I'm especially fond of.


What 3 categories or regions do you see buyers buying more in 2024?

USA, especially South of, Spain and Portugal.

Your current job title and describe your work, please.

Head of Wine for Lucky Cat and Bar & Grill for Gordon Ramsay Restaurants.

I'm based in Mayfair where two of these brands neighbour each other underneath Marriott hotel. I spend quite some time in Chelsea and Manchester where we have other venues and recently I started traveling to the US to look after our North American brands, such as Hell's Kitchen and Ramsay's Kitchen. All venues are modern, fast-paced, and themed around the renowned -bigger than life - chef Gordon Ramsay.

Can you tell us about your journey in the wine industry?

Athens born, I found my way into wine by way of medicine. I moved to the UK ten years ago and took up the role of head sommelier at Thornbury Castle near Bristol. While continuing my WSET studies, I moved to London and also held roles in Mayfair at Michelin-starred Tamarind and Gymkhana before becoming head sommelier of Goodman Restaurant until the pandemic. I then spent quite some time rocking the wine and sake at Azumi group, mainly in Zuma, Roka, and Oblix across various locations around the world. I recently took on the role of Head of wine for a few of the brands of Gordon Ramsay Restaurants. I am also a WSET-certified educator in Sake. Apart from LWC, I am part of the judging panel for a couple of beer competitions as well.

Your favorite wine bars and restaurants in London? (Goes on London Drinks Guide).

The Sampler in Islington has a great selection that you can have by the glass. Bonus points are that you can bring your own food and there are some great food places around.

Gordon's wine bar for the ambiance and cheese/charcuterie selection.

Chez Bruce is a great classic restaurant with a big selection of well-priced back vintages.

I like to enjoy the spicy flavors of Hoppers in Granary Square when I'm around the area.

I can keep going on this xD

Your favorite bottle shops in London? (Goes on London Drinks Guide)

Bedales on Borough Market has some interesting, well-priced bottles you can take home.

Dalla Terra in Covent Garden also has bottles you can take home and their bin ends are enticing. Oddbins at Portobello market is my last visit after I grab some street food to pair ;)

In conversation with Ankita Okate, Chief Growth Officer (CGO), Beverage Trade Network

Note -  Header & Index Image Source: Savvas Symeonidis

Call for domestic and international submission is now open for London Wine Competition. Enter your wines before 31 August 2024 to get super early bird pricing. Register now and ship later to save.

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