Young Okanagan sommelier Canada’s ‘top young sommelier’

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Okanagan sommelier becomes Canada’s ‘top young sommelier’
While many 23-year-olds in Canada are just getting their sea legs when it comes to drinking. Max Brayer is sailing toward a decorated career as a sommelier – Apr 20, 2024

While many 23-year-olds in Canada are just getting their sea legs when it comes to drinking, Max Brayer is sailing toward a decorated career as a sommelier.

The young sommelier works in the tasting room of Arrowleaf Cellars in Lake Country, B.C. and he’s nearly completed his Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET) level three diploma.

“When I fell in love with wine, you really garner such an appreciation for it, it’s not just the fermented grape juice in the glass, it’s the story, it’s all the passionate, hardworking people that put their hands on that bottle,” said Brayer.

Brayer has added a new title to his resume. He’s won top honours at The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier competition that was held in Calgary, Alta.

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“I was competitive growing up in sports,” said Brayer. “This is a way I thought I could channel my career into a competitive drive and try to be the best at something and gain that recognition.”

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To take part in the competition, competitors must be between the ages of 21 and 30 and be knowledgable in wine and crafted beverages.

One of the judges grading Brayer was Llyn Strelau, the Vice Echanson of Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

“Watching Max at work he was a very competent, very comfortable, very personable, just a pleasure to watch because he was just very capable, comfortable, very friendly,” said Strelau.

In the competition, they have to complete a series of tasks and exams; a written test, different service skill performances as well as a blind tasting element.

“This is all meant to keep the industry going. If we don’t have an industry going forward and there’s no place for us to go eat and drink and nobody to pour and open the wine and treat us like kings,” said Strelau.

To prepare for the next competition, Brayer has been studying with the Okanagan chapter of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, vice chancellier Stephen Duke says it’s rare to find a young sommelier who is this accomplished.

“We are really excited about Max’s success because it gives us a sense of purpose, it’s why we get together to raise money to do this kind of thing, for us, after a couple of years of working training, we are able to celebrate his success

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Brayer has set his sights on competing in Lisbon, Portugal in October to represent Canada on the international stage at the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs International Young Sommelier Competition.

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