As Sommeliers and Event Planners at Domaine Somm, we are always looking for ways to build upon our knowledge and learn more about new trends in our industry. The Sommelier Summit at the CIA in Napa Valley was a 3-day program we attended last week, filled with classes and workshops led by some of the most prestigious wine & food professionals. It was a star-studded event with Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wine and renowned chefs and winemakers. The programming was filled with everything from blind tastings and sake master classes to wine pairings on the fly and even yoga at a vineyard! We soaked it all up. Here are our highlights from this jam-packed and educational summit:
The Sommelier Summit kicked off with small groups of off-site, "pre-summit sessions". There were several activity options, but we chose yoga at a vineyard, (I mean get a load of that view!) The class was lead by Christie Dufault, an associate professor at the CIA (and yoga instructor). The landscape was gorgeous and it was the perfect way to center us for the next few days, which were filled with lots of wine and learning!
One of our favorite classes was "Riesling: Old World, New World, Out of This World". In this class we learned about the weather, winemaking, stylistic and regional trends in all the different regions across the world that are producing Riesling. Including Michigan! (GO BLUE!) The panel included winemakers such as Ernst Loosen of the famed Dr. Loosen Winery, located in the Mosel, Germany, as well as importers that specialize in Riesling.
One class that was particularly inspiring was "Nouvelle Vague". This class was lead by chef Rolland Passot of La Folie, and Master Sommeliers Andrea Robinson and Gilles de Chambure. We discussed classic French wine and food pairings as well as the direction of modern French cuisine and the challenges that it brings to sommeliers. The class was split up into teams and we were tasked with finding the perfect French wines to accompany each dish in a 5-course meal of modern French cuisine. Each dish had a distinct wine pairing challenge. We are happy to say our team did very well! While coming up with our pairings, we made sure to keep in mind not only flavors, texture and composition, but also a few classic pairing "philosophies" such as: "What grows together goes together." or, "Does it compliment the dish, or contrast the dish?".
This pairing class was followed by the high energy, game show type class "BYOB: Pairing on the Fly" We were all handed a "voting machine" remote control and were given 4 wines blind to pair with 3 separate dishes. We were allowed 3 minutes to taste each dish with each wine and make our decision as to which wine paired best.
Food & Wine is an ever-evolving industry; it is important to keep an open mind, and continue to learn to stay on the pulse! The CIA did a great job of keeping the classes professional, educational, and fun. We look forward to attending the Sommelier Summit in 2017!