The SOMM Journal

April / May 2018

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{ }  87 Veteran emcee and Master Sommelier Devon Broglie mixes quick wit with wine wisdom at Somms Under Fire. An hour before the doors opened to the new Zlotnik Family Ballroom, the sold-out crowd mingled for pre-dinner cocktails in the new Rowling Hall, with internationally-known artist José Parlá's mural 25-foot-tall mural "Amistad América" serving as a striking backdrop. As we waited, we cast our votes for one of the three petite drinks made with Citadelle Gin as part of the Citadelle Gin de France Cocktail Challenge (Somms Under Fire selects a different spirit for the competition each year). Just a few days prior, the three finalists—Zimorski and fellow Advanced Sommeliers Nick Davis of Seattle and Michael "Mick" Descamps of Detroit—had received the rules for the competition: Their cocktail needed to highlight the botanicals of Citadelle while drawing inspiration from the contestant's favorite song. Davis emulated the Isley Brothers cover of "Summer Breeze" through his Summer Derby cocktail with grapefruit juice and honey syrup, while Descamps called on his love for the Beastie Boys to dream up a spicy libation called the Paul Revere. Zimorski's winning creation BK I Slay, a clever gin spin on the Scotch-based Penicillin cocktail, took inspiration from Beyoncé's now-ubiquitous mantra to create a syrup flavored with tea, kelp, coffee, and other aromatics to mimic the smoky notes of single- malt Scotch. "We couldn't use other spirits, just gin," Zimorski told the crowd. "So I took all these flavor components you'd find in an Islay Scotch and put them in a syrup." The all-star cast of Somms Under Fire 2018, pictured from left to right: Michael "Mick" Descamps, Advanced Sommelier; Jill Zimorski, Advanced Sommelier; Nick Davis, Advanced Sommelier; James Tidwell, MS; Melissa Monosoff, MS; Jay James, MS; June Rodil, MS; David Keck, MS; Devon Broglie, MS; and Diane Dixon, Founder of Somm Under Fire. Keeper Collection's weekly wine-education forum, #SommChat, is held every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. EST on Twitter. The contestants certainly didn't have long to rest before conquering their next challenge: After the cocktail competition wrapped, we settled in the ballroom to experience their food and wine pairings. From a roster of 12 wines chosen from the TEXSOM International Wine Awards submissions, contestants handpicked selections to accompany The Carillon restaurant's rich foie gras tart and sous-vide Iberico pork chop, with a dessert course of cheeses from Austin-based Antonelli's Cheese Shop. Zimorski's winning wines—a Dr. Loosen Riesling GG with the tart, a Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva with the pork, and a Rodney Strong Cabernet Reserve for the cheese course— earned her both the judges' award and the "Fan Favorite" honor. Zimorski's prizes included a weeklong internship in Burgundy with a travel grant from the TEXSOM Foundation, as well as a trip to Seattle to experience the Taste Washington wine and food festival in March. "As a perpetual student, I encourage everyone I know to take every opportunity to enter contests and go on enrichment trips," Zimorski says, adding she was "utterly thrilled" to visit Burgundy for the first time. "That's the incredible thing with this industry—the friendships you make around the world."

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