Jeunes Sommeliers Competition - Other events
Seoul, September 18-19, 2019
Seoul - a leading global city
" And so it was that competitors .. flew in from around the world "

Officially the “Seoul Special City”, Seoul is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. Strategically situated along the Han River, Seoul's history stretches back over two thousand years. Located at the heart of the Korean Peninsula, from one kingdom to the next the city has always been an important strategic point throughout the centuries.

As with its long history, the Seoul Capital Area contains five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. Today, Seoul is considered a leading and rising global city, resulting from the South Korean economic boom - commonly referred to as the “Miracle on the Han River” - which transformed it into the world's 4th largest metropolitan economy.

And so it was that competitors, their supporters, committee and judges flew in from around the world to participate in the programme of events around the 2019 International Final of the Jeunes Sommeliers Competition.

Being accommodated at the Grand Hilton Seoul (Bailli Délégué Bernhard Brender is General Manager) located in the Hongeun-dong area of northwest Seoul was convenient for excursions and private sightseeing as the hotel was only 15 minutes from the heart of downtown.

Wednesday evening saw the opening event of the programme at Restaurant Gastro Tong, with “mine hosts” Échanson Roland Hinni and his wife, Yeongshim Kim. Known as “The little Switzerland in Seoul” (Roland is Swiss born), the name "Gastro Tong” is a combination of the words “Gastronomie” and “Tong” meaning communication with food. A menu of Poached mackerel, Goose liver stuffed black chicken breast, Vanilla lemon sorbet, Beef Wellington and Rhubarb with rhubarb ice cream delighted everyone.

Thursday comprised a day trip to Sansawon for a tour and tasting. A producer of traditional Korean alcohol, Sansawon makes high-quality, chemical-free soju (local vodka), makgeolli and other rice wines. After the tasting we toured the museum of traditional brewery equipment and saw rows of ceramic vats outside containing soju left to mature.

Lunch was at Jangsuchon Tofu Restaurant. This humble rural institution specialized in fresh homemade bean curd. The interior was simply decorated and offered both table and floor seating.

In the evening there was a formal reception and buffet dinner in the Crane Room at the Grand Hilton Seoul.

With the social events of the programme at an end the competitors and all involved in the organisation of the International Final retired to their respective rooms to prepare for an early start the following day and the start of the competition. [Ed. See separate report] 

Marie Jones
International Vice-President
Chair, Jeunes Sommeliers Competition Committee

Event photos courtesy of Peter Green, Grand Officier (Thailand)