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Preeminent Sommelier Competition Draws Wine Industry Luminaries

2019 Somms Under Fire™ Tickets Now on Sale 

AUSTIN, Texas [December 5, 2018] – Tickets are now on sale for the eighth annual Somms Under Fire, the country’s most distinguished live sommelier wine and food pairing competition. VIP tickets are $160 and General Admission tickets are $75 for the event, which will be held Sunday, January 27, 2019 in the Zlotnik Family Ballroom at AT&T Hotel and Conference Center in Austin, Texas. 

In the competition presented by Keeper Collection, sommeliers are challenged to match wines selected from TEXSOM International Wine Awards entrants with dishes prepared by a specially chosen restaurant. The sommeliers draw from their professional experience to choose the wine that best compliments the cuisine and then present their selection to a panel of expert judges. The audience tastes each wine and food pairing course along with the judges and evaluates the sommeliers choices for their pairings.

Somms Under Fire begins with a VIP tasting and educational seminar at 5:00 pm, followed by the Somms Under Fire Cocktail Challenge. The Somms Under Fire wine and food pairing competition begins at 7:00 pm.

The three Finalists competing for the title of Somms Under Fire 2019 Champion are:

  • Dustin Chabert, Advanced Sommelier, Illinois Market Manager for DNS Wines, and sommelier at Spiaggia in Aurora, Illinois.
  • Phil Laramore, Advanced Sommelier and owner of SAmandla import company, in Littleton, Colorado.  
  • David Reuss, Certified Sommelier and the wine director at Shanahan’s Steakhouse, Denver, Colorado.

Keeper Collection owner, Diane Dixon says, “Somms Under Fire is a mix of wine-centric live theater and serious wine professional competition. It is sort of like a combination of TV shows ‘Top Chef’ and ‘Survivor’ for wine professionals, competing in front of a live audience. The contestants are some of the best sommeliers in the country, showing off their deep understanding of the delicate dance between wine and food. They are tasked with selecting appropriate pairings, while having to impress the judges and entertain the guests at the same time. It is one of the most important sommelier competitions in the United States and has attracted prominent names in the wine industry to serve as judges, sponsors, and emcees.”

The Master Sommelier Judges Panel:

Somms Under Fire has attracted high-profile wine industry professionals to serve on a panel of judges which includes: 

  • David Keck, Master Sommelier and Partner, Goodnight Hospitality.
  • Melissa Monosoff, Master Sommelier and Director of Education Court of Master Sommeliers-Americas.
  • Bernard Sun, Luxury Accounts Manager, Kobrand Corporation.
  • James Tidwell, Master Sommelier and TEXSOM Co-Founder.

The Judges Panel will test the competitor’s depth of knowledge about wine, and their ability to explain why the wine they selected is the best match for each course of the dinner. The judges will award the winning sommelier a Grand Prize of a one-week Internship in Burgundy, France, and a $2,000 travel grant.

The sommeliers have a second opportunity to win, as event guests will vote for a fan favorite.

2019 Somms Under Fire Sponsors

  • Official Champagne Sponsor: Champagne Taittinger, one of the great Champagne houses of France, will provide Champagne selections to be served during the VIP and general sessions. Taittinger brand ambassador Bernard Sun will provide a brief educational session about Taittinger champagne and will serve as a competition judge. Champagne Taittinger will host a day visit to the famed Champagne house for the winning sommelier.
  • Grand Prize Sponsor: Becky Wasserman & Co will once again provide the grand prize of a one-week wine internship with a renowned Burgundy expert, in Burgundy, France to the winning sommelier.
  • Travel Grant Sponsor: The TEXSOM Foundation will provide a travel grant for the winner. The Foundation sponsorship is part of a strategic alliance with Keeper Collection, as the event’s mission of advanced education for consumers and wine professionals aligns extremely well with TEXSOM’s mission. Wines used in the competition will be selected from the TEXSOM International Wine Awards submissions, and James Tidwell, co-founder of TEXSOM will participate as a judge.    
  • Marketing Sponsor: Marketing agency, Pen & Tell Us, is again providing graphic design, public relations, and social media support for the event.  

Returning as event emcees are Devon Broglie, Master Sommelier, Chair of The Board of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, and Global Beverage Buyer at Whole Foods Market, and June Rodil, Master Sommelier, Vice President of Operations of McGuire Moorman Hospitality and partner at June’s All Day. The two long-time friends share witty banter along with wine insight at the event as seen in this video with insider tips about what to expect at the competition. 

For additional information about 2019 Somms Under Fire and to purchase tickets, please visit the Keeper Collection website.

About Keeper Collection

Keeper Collection is a distinguished wine and food experience, event and travel company that operates #SommChat, Somms Under Fire, Wine Ride, Chefs Under Fire, Life Tastings Blog, and Keeper Travel. Keeper has garnered international attention for its creation of #SommChat, a weekly wine education forum on Twitter held every Wednesday from 12-1 PM EST. Wine and Spirits Magazine says, “#SommChat is ‘Wine in 140 characters’ and has garnered an impressive guest list.” Guests include international wine professionals and an audience comprised of active participants from around the world. Connect with Keeper Collection on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for the Finest Blend of Taste and Technology®.

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