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2018 Somms Under Fire™ Tickets Now on Sale: Wine Industry Luminaries Named as Sponsors, Judges, and Emcees

AUSTIN, Texas [November 15, 2017] – Tickets are now on sale for Somms Under Fire, the country’s preeminent live sommelier wine and food pairing competition. VIP tickets are $150 and General Admission tickets are $75 for the event, which will be held Sunday, January 28, 2018 at the The Zlotnik Family Ballroom in Rowling Hall at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center in Austin, Texas.

Somms Under Fire begins with a VIP tasting 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 pm featuring cuisine from The Carillon Restaurant, a refined dining destination with a comfortably elegant atmosphere within the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center.

The seventh annual Somms Under Fire is a continuation of one of the most important sommelier competitions in the United States. The event has attracted prominent names in the wine industry to serve as sponsors, judges, and emcees. Sommeliers are challenged to match wines selected fromTEXSOM International Wine Awards entrants with dishes prepared by the executive chef of The Carillon, showcasing culinary creations of seasonal and playful takes on traditional food made with local ingredients. The sommeliers will select an appropriate wine to pair with the dishes in front of a panel of expert judges and the audience.

Somms Under Fire will be the first event of this kind held in the new, expanded facilities at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center. The facility is undergoing a significant expansion, which will increase the meeting and event space by 30,000 square feet, which includes the 15,000-square-foot Zlotnik Family Ballroom, 5,000 square feet of pre-function space, and more. The expansion will open early 2018.

2018 Somms Under Fire Sponsors

Washington State Wine and Champagne Taittinger will both serve as sponsors for the event.

Washington State Wine will serve as the VIP and Fan Favorite sponsor of 2018 Somms Under Fire. VIP ticketholders will enjoy an in-depth look into the wines of Washington during an exclusive tasting of eight wines and an educational program presented by Steve Warner, President of Washington State Wine. The session will provide an in-depth look at the conditions that shape the region, and an opportunity to taste some of Washington State’s best wines.

“Washington State Wine is thrilled to be the VIP and Fan Favorite Sponsor of Somms Under Fire in 2018,” says Steve Warner, President of Washington State Wine. “Washington State continues to grow on the world’s wine stage, and we’re looking forward to sharing some of our state’s most exciting wines during the VIP event. We love Texas and are looking forward to further spreading the word of Washington State Wine this January."

Champagne Taittinger, one of the great Champagne houses of France, is the Official Champagne Sponsor of the 2018 Somms Under Fire. Taittinger will provide Taittinger Prestige Rosé Brut NV for the VIP education session, and Taittinger La Francaise Brut NV to be served during the general session. Taittinger brand ambassador Bernard Sun will provide a brief educational session about Taittinger champagne and serve as a competition judge.

The Celebrity Judges Panel:

Somms Under Fire has assembled a panel of judges which includes high-profile wine industry personalities:

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

“Somms Under Fire is one of the most relevant sommelier competitions in the country because it tests the most important skillsets of the sommelier: understanding wine and food to select appropriate pairings, and interacting with guests to both explain the wine and the pairings and to offer great hospitality at the same time. The competition displays what being a sommelier means,” says TEXSOMco-founder and Master Sommelier James Tidwell.

The Judges Panel will grill the competitors to gauge their depth of knowledge about wine, and the specifics of the wine and food pairings they select. The judges will award the winning sommelier a Grand Prize of a one-week Internship in Burgundy, France, compliments of Becky Wasserman & Co. In addition, the winner will receive a $2,000 travel grant provided by the TEXSOM Foundation. Champagne Taittinger will host a day visit to the famed Champagne house for the winning sommelier.

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

As the Fan Favorite Sponsor for 2018 Somms Under Fire, Washington State Wine will award round-trip airfare, three night hotel accommodations, and VIP tickets for the Taste Washington Grand Tastingheld March 24-25, 2018 in Seattle, WA. The Fan Favorite Sommelier winner and a selected Somms Under Fire Sommelier volunteer will enjoy wine seminars and winemaker dinners during the event weekend in Washington.

The three Finalists competing for the title of Somms Under Fire 2018 Champion (listed alphabetically below) are:

  • Nick Davis, Advanced Sommelier and founder and creative director at Medium Plus, Seattle, WA.
  • Michael “Mick” Descamps, Advanced Sommelier and wine director and sommelier at Red Wagon Wine Shoppes, Macomb, MI.
  • Jill Zimorski, Advanced Sommelier and Champagne specialist representing Moët Hennessy USA Portfolio, Chicago, IL.

Devon Broglie, Master Sommelier, and Global Beverage Buyer at Whole Foods, and June Rodil, Master Sommelier and beverage director at McGuire Moorman Hospitality and partner at June’s All Day, return to serve as event emcees. The duo, known for their levity and deep wine knowledge, ensure a lively event.

For additional information about 2018 Somms Under Fire and to purchase tickets, please visit theKeeper Collection website.

About Champagne Taittinger

Champagne Taittinger is one of the last remaining major marque Champagne Houses, both owned and actively managed by the family named on the label. Champagne Taittinger is the second largest vineyard or domaine owner in the region giving them ultimate control of quality from vine to bottle. The Champagnes are Chardonnay dominant, which gives them their signature elegance, delicacy and finesse. Champagne Taittinger is widely distributed around the world in 140 countries. To learn more about Champagne Taittinger visit:

About Washington State Wine

Washington State Wine (WSW) represents every licensed winery and wine grape grower in Washington State. Guided by an appointed board, WSW provides a marketing platform to raise positive awareness of the Washington State wine industry and generate greater demand for its wines. Funded almost entirely by the industry through assessments based on grape and wine sales, WSW is a state government agency, established by the legislature in 1987. To learn more, visit

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®.