What do you get when you have a gorgeous tavern, 10 glasses of wine, and the nation’s best Sommeliers? You have Somm Slam V.

For the 5th annual edition of Gage Hospitality Group’s spirited affair, Sommeliers and wine connoisseurs gathered at Beacon Tavern for a wine competition of the ages. Chicago Sommeliers would go head-to-head with some of the nations leading sommeliers in a blind pairing challenge. This begs the question – is Chicago home to the best somms?

The Challenge

In order to decide who would take home the coveted prize, the audience would use their refined taste buds and palates to cast their votes for the best pairing.

Discreetly served wine was poured into each of our glasses. Two glasses of wine accompanied each dish bringing the grand total of wine for the evening to 10 glasses. Full transparency: covering an event while having 10 glasses of wine is no easy feat. I couldn’t help myself and I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun so bring on the wine.

Once our wine glasses are filled, out comes a decadent dish prepared by executive chef Bob Broskey. While certainly not your ordinary tavern, Beacon Tavern specializes in creating upscale renditions of tavern classics. Let’s just say, we weren’t noshing on a burger and fries. Only the finest cuisine was on the menu for the evening.

With the food, the wine, and our taste buds; we had all the necessary elements needed to select a winner.

Best Pairing or Best Tasting?

The event featured a mixture of wine enthusiasts, experts, and people like me (someone just looking for a good time) With that being said, we all had our own criteria for how we were going to vote on the wines for the evening.

Among, the 80 guests in attendance, it became a controversial topic over if we should pick the best tasting wine or the best paired. However, at my table, I had a few wine experts including a somm from San Francisco. It became a question of ethics over whether it was right to select a wine based on taste alone.

However, if you know me then you know I don’t pretend to know all to know about wine. Don’t tell my table, but I went with my favorite tasting wine. At the end of the day you have to like what you’re drinking so pair your wine accordingly.

Out Comes the Rosé

It was by the second course that I had already determined a winner in my book. Let’s just say it was love at first pour. I love whites and reds are growing on me but there’s just something about rosé that I can’t resist. Rosé is the quintessential girly drink but I like what I like.

The effervescent Petilant Naturel Rosé from William Chris Vineyards was paired with Jambon de Paris and Oxtail Terrin along with Chive Brioche and Cornichons. I was in heaven and it was then that I knew that my winner of the evening would be sommelier Chris Brundrett. And sure enough, he took home the grand prize.

It’s a tie?

In true Somm Slam fashion, the evening couldn’t conclude without a few surprises in store. Also sharing the prize with Chris was Sommelier Cassie Skai of Girl and the Goat. She paired the same Jambon de Paris with a Maxime Magnon Campagne from Corbiéres, France. This monumental win was a first in Somm Slam history. I guess we have to commend chef Broskey for creating such a decadent dish where any wine would suffice.

Photo Credit: Bethan Fritz of Maypole Studios

So where can you find the best Sommeliers? Looks like it’s right here in Chicago and Texas. Happy wine tasting!



*Entry to the event was provided complimentary to me. All opinions are my own