Want to get Inside the Head of a Sommelier?-2019 Somms Under Fire

If you love good wine, good food, and good company, Somms Under Fire next Sunday is a not-to-be-missed event.

Each year, three top Sommeliers from around the country compete as dozens more support through volunteering at this event. Three courses, prepared by local chefs are served, paired with wines in competitive fashion. Once a wine is chosen, it cannot be chosen again. The sommeliers explain his or her choice of wine and the elements that combine to create a perfect pairing. We taste and pair along with them.

If you’ve always wanted to get inside the head of a somm, this is your event.

It always sells out, so don’t wait too long if you’d like to join us at the AT&T Conference Center on UT campus. For more information about the event and this year’s competitors, judges, and prizes, see the official press release below.

{I will be attending this event with a media pass. Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

2019 Somms Under Fire™ Announces Featured Restaurants and Broadbent Selections as VIP Sponsor

AUSTIN, Texas [January 17, 2019] The 2019 Somms Under Fire will test competitors ability to pair award winning wine with cuisine from some of Austin’s top restaurants including Foreign & Domestic and Salt & Time. The live sommelier competition, happening on Sunday, January 27, 2019 at the Zlotnik Family Ballroom in Rowling Hall at The AT&T Hotel & Conference Center in Austin, Texas, will also include an exclusive wine tasting and in-depth education program presented by Broadbent Selections featuring the wines of South Africa for VIP ticketholders at 5:00 pm.

The Somms Under Fire competitors were chosen through a rigorous examination process. One of the original finalists is unable to compete and the first alternate, Advanced Sommelier Kathleen Thomas, training director, Hakkasan Group, Las Vegas, Nevada has been selected to round out the competitors. The finalists competing for the title of Somms Under Fire 2019 Champion are (listed alphabetically below):

  • Phil Laramore, Advanced Sommelier, and owner and president of SAmandla wine Imports, Denver, Colorado
  • David Reuss, Advance Sommelier and wine director at Shanahan’s Steakhouse, Denver, Colorado
  • Kathleen Thomas, Advanced Sommelier and training director, Hakkasan Group, Las Vegas, Nevada

The finalists will present their wine and food pairings to an esteemed panel of judges that includes and all Master Sommeliers:

  • Max Kast, Regional Sales Manager, Broadbent Selections
  • David Keck, Partner, Goodnight Hospitality Group
  • Melissa Monosoff, Education Director, Court of Master Sommeliers
  • James Tidwell, TexSom & TexSom IWA

The competitors in Somms Under Fire have three opportunities to win:

  1. The panel of industry luminary judges will award the winning Sommelier a Grand Prize of a one-week Internship in Burgundy, France, compliments of Becky Wasserman & Co. In addition, TexSom Foundation will present a $2,000 Travel Grant to the winner.
  2. Guests attending Somms Under Fire will have an opportunity to vote for the Fan Favorite. The sommelier who wins the most votes from guests at the event and a Somms Under Fire Sommelier volunteer will receive a seven-day, six-night wine educational trip to study wines of South Africa sponsored by Broadbent Selections.
  3. The Finalist with the highest score on the entrance exam will awarded a Magnum of Dessai 50 Sake, presented by Genji Sake.

For additional information regarding Somms Under Fire and to purchase tickets, please visit http://keepercollection.com/somms-under-fire.



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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

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