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My own « Somms Under Fire» experience

On Sunday, July26th, the Keeper Collection team organized a little “Somms Under Fire™” dinner for me and some Keeper friends, including the Somms Under Fire Photographer, Ashleigh Strain of Ashleigh Strain Photography.

For those, who are not familiar with the event called “Somms Under Fire”, you can learn more here.

Somms Under Fire is an event organized by Keeper Collection, which is held every year in January. It is a unique and interactive Wine and Food pairing Sommelier competition. The competition challenges three top Sommeliers to prove their perfect pairing skills in front of an audience and judges panel. The competition is open for entry to all Beverage Industry Professionals, or any person who is currently employed in the beverage industry for a restaurant, retailer, distributor or supplier.

For my private “Somms Under Fire", I was offered 7 dishes and 5 different wines to choose from for the pairings.

Here is the list:

Wine:

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Pierre Morey, Bourgogne Blanc, 2010:

- Domaine located in Meursault in Burgundy

- 10 hectares

- Different appellations : Monthelie, Pommard, Meursault

- Biodynamic culture

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Scarpetta Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio 2012 :

- Italian wine from Friuli, created by Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado

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Gilbert Picq, Chablis, 2011 :

- Domaine located in Chichée (close to Chablis) in Burgundy

- 13 hectares

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Domaine Gerard Mugneret, Passetoutgrain, 2010 :

- Domaine located in Vosne Romanée in Burgundy

- 8 hectares

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Domaine Michel Lafarge, Bourgogne Rouge, 2010 :

- Domaine located in Volnay in Burgundy

- 12 hectares

- Different appellations: Meursault, Volnay, Pommard & Beaune

- Biodynamic culture

Food:

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Fresh Farmers Market Melon

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Grilled romaine / Oven roasted tomatoes / Goat cheese

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Okra & Tomato mélange

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Eggplant and peppers – Caponata

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Grilled Hamachi Collars – 2 ways

- Dashi / Eel Sauce

- Ponzu Marinade

Brie & Crackers

Fresh Peaches

The food was prepared by the Keeper Collection Chef with fresh products from the local farmers markets.

The goal of this “Somms Under Fire” was to associate a wine to a dish. Unlike the actual Somms Under Fire contestants, we were given an advantage and allowed to taste each wine before eating the food. We then looked at the dishes and thought about what may make a good pairing based upon what we tasted in each wine. Then, on our sheet, we drew a line connecting what we thought would be our favorite pairing. It was not an easy exercise, because to choose a wine without tasting the food can be very difficult. For example, without tasting the food, we do not know if the food will be spicy or sweet.

Once, this initial exercise was done, we tried the food with our pairing. It was very interesting to see what each person chose as the wine they imagined would pair the best.

For example, with the Hamachi, which is a fish, some people chose a red wine and some a white wine. Those that chose the white wine said they thought fish was to always be with paired wine. Seeing others try a red wine with the fish made them want to do the same. What happened from this was that everyone decided that the red wine paired better in this case because the Hamachi had a savory sauce, which was good with the red wines. During this evening, it was nice to share our pairings and points of view among the group.

To conclude, it was a great evening and an original exercise for me. This is the first time that I tried to choose wine to pair with food. It was very interesting and was fun, because I did not have the pressure of competing in front of judges and an audience of 250 people like in the real Somms Under Fire Competition. And now, I have an idea of what pressure the contestants may feel during the live competition. I believe that Somms Under Fire is a very hard competition. Due to this exercise, I know that I do not want to become a Sommelier. I am glad that I will be able to be a part of the wine world with my involvement in my family's winery, Domaine Michel Lafarge.

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