The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2016

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Page 14 of 132

14  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2016 THE MESSAGE Brief Encounters Whether The Tasting Panel goes to the brand execs or the brands call us, there is an abundance of news to report, from the latest releases to behind-the-scenes experiences with some of the world's most influential importers, winemakers, distillers . . . well, you name it. We may not have enough pages in each issue to devote as much attention as we would like to each person whose path we cross, but please note that if it's in the publication, we deem it noteworthy. —Meridith May, Publisher & Editorial Director 14  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2016 PHOTO: MELISSA BLACKMON Somms Taking on Somms Jon McDaniel, Beverage Director at Chicago's Lawless Restaurant Group. S ommeliers gathering to taste wine and compare notes isn't so unusual, as many study to attain yet another level of professional certification. But Jon McDaniel, Beverage Director at Chicago's Lawless Restaurant Group (Acanto, The Dawson, The Gage and Beacon Tavern) invited top Chicagoland sommeliers to gather for a slightly more competitive angle. On February 9, McDaniel hosted his second annual Sommelier Slam, bringing ten somms into Acanto restaurant for a five- course pairing dinner, served to and judged by seventy- five ticket-purchasing consumers. Each dish was prepared by a different Lawless Group chef, and sommeliers were randomly paired to select wines. "It's a way to get somme- liers around the community in one place to showcase their pairing skills," McDaniel says. "Everyone has a different definition of the 'best,' so for some, it was the best wine, while for others, it was the best pairing," McDaniel says. "Either way, people got to put their expert wine judge hat on for this." McDaniel announced winning wines after each course and allowed the two sommeliers to explain their pairing principles to the crowd. The wines spanned the wine globe, from a Pet-Nat Malvasia from Oregon's Applegate Valle to a Chardonnay- Chenin Blanc blend from the Western Cape of South Africa. The evening demonstrated the difficulty and vast creativity of pairing wines to complex dishes that som- meliers hadn't even tasted. —Laura Levy Shatkin

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