By Jamie Drummond

Evan Saviolidis, the Grand Champion of the 2010 Wine Tasting Challenge

It was with great pleasure we received the breaking news that Evan Saviolidis was the recipient of the 2010 Wine Tasting Challenge Grand Award. There is no doubt in our mind that Evan has one of the most honed palates in the land, and we feel that this recognition is certainly well deserved. Evan has been a great supporter of Good Food Revolution since its inception and even contributed a piece for the site last year. This is actually Evan’s very first time competing in the challenge as in previous years he has been tied up teaching all over North America.

We sat down with Evan (ostensibly for a video interview, but our backup camera had some issues) to discuss his feelings upon being awarded such a coveted title:

Good Food Revolution: How do you feel about your win?

Evan Saviolidis: To be quite honest with you I am still in shock… I cannot believe I have won, considering the calibre of the other competitors who were there. It’s a little bit humbling, a little bit fun… it’s also been very gratifying. It’s a great experience to have gone through.

GFR: What do you feel brought you to this point where you can blind taste at the level you do?

ES: There are a few things that have come about in my life, number one being my passion for wine. I have been into the “wine spirit”, if you will, for the past 15 years, I also teach Sommelier education and training, as well as being a journalist for Wine Tidings magazine… all this has added to my knowledge… and of course I have been tasting for those last 15 years, tasting close to 500 wines a month, which all added up and helped and helped with this final taste test.

GFR: Who would you say was your inspiration?

ES: Nick Hamilton, the Montreal wine educator. He taught my very first wine course and over the years I have based much of my teaching style and the structure of my classes around what I learned from him.

GFR: Do you feel that a palate like yours is inherent or is it something that one can learn?

ES: I believe that it can be learned over time through tasting. One’s palate develops over time.

GFR: In your 15 years of working in the world of wine I know that you have travelled all over the world tasting, and as part of your prize purse you have been awarded many trips. Is there any wine region or wine producing country, that you haven’t yet been to, that you would like to visit in the future?

ES: Argentina… and Tokaji in Hungary… oh, and Australia… and South Africa… and Austria while we are at it…

GFR: Do you have any tips for would-be challengers to your title in the 2011 competition?

ES: Get a good night’s sleep the night before as your body needs to be rested and in top condition to perform well in a blind tasting situation.

GFR: Ha… that’ll be why I perform horribly year in year out then

ES: It’s also important that you don’t look at the multiple choice answers before evaluating each wine first as seeing those can seriously cloud your judgment when appraising the wines. With the Wine Tasting Challenge I also think that luck does play a part, as the calibre of the other competitors is so high.


A full list of the winners is below:


Grand Award Winner:  Evan Saviolidis

2nd place:  Barclay Robinson

3rd place:   Jonathan Gonsenhauser


1st place:  Sarah Bartlett


1st place:  Barclay Robinson


1st place:     Jonathan Salem-Wiseman

2nd place:    Ed Chalupka

3rd place:     Irina Omari