Following four regional heats in London, Tunbridge Wells, Bristol and Manchester, the 16 finalists were chosen to go through to the final at Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London on 1 June.
There they will be required to undertake a blind tasting, a food and wine matching exercise and a detailed questionnaire testing their knowledge.
The top three from that round will then compete in front of a live audience with another blind tasting, wine list correcting exercise, roleplay scenario and Champagne pour.
AFWS chairman Nick Scade said: “This year’s finalists includes some familiar names but we’ve also got some exciting new sommeliers coming to the fore such as Adam Pawlowski from Northcote, Arnaud Bardary from Maze and Loic Avril from The Fat Duck. With such a high calibre of sommeliers getting through to the final, including three from The Fat Duck, we are likely to see one of the most exciting finals in the competition’s 32-year history.”
Last year’s winner was Christopher Delalonde from Sarment Wines.
The finalists for the 2011 Sommelier of the Year Award are:
Wiremu Andrews, Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Cheltenham
Loic Avril, The Fat Duck, Bray
Arnaud Bardary, Maze, London
Tobias Brauweiler, Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham
Remi Cousin, The Fat Duck, Bray
Sergio Dos Santos, Atlantic Hotel, Jersey
Bavand Foroughi, Claridge’s, London
Michael Jenni, L’Autre Pied, London
Johann Jousselin, The Vineyard at Stockcross, Newbury
Lukasz Kolodziejczyk, The Fat Duck, Bray
Kathrine Larsen, Le Pont de la Tour, London
Philippe Moranges, Hakkasan, London
Adam Pawlowski, Northcote, Blackburn
Mark Perlaki, Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Harrogate
Stephen Raducki, Lime Wood, Lyndhurst
Clement Robert, Summer Lodge, Evershot