Excellent blow by blow in the Sommelier Challenge by Roberta Rinaldi:
For those of us obsessed by wine, Saturday was an exciting day at The Taste of Beverly Hills. Eight sommeliers competed (click here for bios) in the “Boys vs Girls Sommelier Blind Tasting”. Moderated by event sommelier, Bonnie Graves, teams of four girl and four boy sommeliers were playfully pitted against each other, one pair for each of the four wines tasted.
The group featured some of California’s brightest, most cutting edge sommeliers. On the feminine side were Rebecca Chapa (Culinary Institute of America), Diane De Luca (Providence), Dana Farner (CUT–wearing the best sundress ever!) and Carolyn Styne (AOC, Luques, Tavern). Representin’ for the boys were Chris Lavin (XIV), Mark Mendoza (Comme Ca and Sona), Jonathan Mitchell (Palm Restaurant) and David Rosoff (Pizzeria Mozza).
[...] And so it went, with the best round being round three. Rebecca Chapa and David Rosoff were completely stumped by a bottle of Two Buck Chuck Merlot, which she guessed to be a Chinon Cabernet Franc, and he thought to be a Dolcetto! Since the teams were allowed to reach conclusions by consensus; this was a great example of how group think leads wine tasters to cede their opinions to others, when they’d be better served to follow their gut instincts. Jonathan Mitchell had a thigh-slapping moment upon the reveal, when he exclaimed that his first impression was of a cheap Merlot, then went along with David.
Kudos to Caroline Styne for having a wine blog (and running three restaurants) – her Taste of BevHills’ panelist take from the great gender drink-off:
So, when Bonnie Graves, a Los Angeles wine gal contacted me to join a men vs. women blind tasting panel at the Taste of Beverly Hills event last weekend, I immediately told her that there was no way in hell that I would do it. The other people on the panel were going to be individuals who I completely respect and who get loads of practice tasting blind.
I told her that I would provide a personally embarrassing amount of comic relief and would basically end up looking like a complete idiot. Of course, after about seven emails and even a personal visit at Lucques, Bonnie managed to persuade me to do it with promises of a fun, light-hearted event, a potential bottle of Krug for the winning team and loads of p.r. for the restaurant. [...]
In the end, we ladies redeemed ourselves with a totally right-on identification of a 2006 Rioja Reserva and won the match. We left the event holding our heads a little higher while laughing at ourselves a little louder.