Summit Wine and Food Festival Holds Sommelier Showdown Luncheon
Sunday, September 23, 2012 • 1:55am
SUMMIT, NJ - Three sommeliers from the tri- state area showed off their knowledge of wine Saturday afternoon, when the Summit Wine and Food Festival held its annual Sommelier Showdown Luncheon.
The contest featured Host Mollie Battenhouse, who is a master of wine and master sommelier candidate, judges Fred Price, Elisa Cooper and Jorge Lilloy all of whom are wine educators, and sommeliers Jonathon Ross of Eleven Madison Park, who was the 2010 winner, Dana Geiser of Martin Wines and Anjoleena Griffin-Holst, the 2011 winner.
Without the use of sight, the sommeliers were given three wines and asked to decipher everything about them. And they were timed doing so! They tested the wine’s smell, taste and described the origin and composition of the wine.
The sommeliers also had to pretend to serve wine to two of the judges and display the proper etiquette as if they were in a restaurant. The judges tried to distract them with random questions because, according to proper etiquette, the sommeliers cannot look up while pouring wine.
The three lavish courses were served for lunch: smoked swordfish with micro peas tendril, fennel and California olive oil made by chef Peter Turso of Ursino in Union; bone marrow crusted beef tenderloin, gorgonzola-potato torta, rapini and spice red wine sauce made by chef Ryan DePersio of Fascino in Montclair; and caramel flan de queso, with honey, roasted peaches and toasted pistachios made by Jose Messina of Patria in Rahway.
After those in attendance filled up on the delicious food and the judges were wowed by the sommeliers, it was time to pick a winner. For the second time in four years, Ross was declared victorious.
“It’s fun. It’s definitely a different experience when you have spectators,” Ross said. “It’s definitely an opportunity to make yourself seem a little bit more open and more a person and not just a guy in a suit carrying wine bottles in a restaurant.”
Ross, who has attended the festival since its inception, said it is a great time, but it has definitely changed a great deal. Ross told TheAlternativePress.com that the audience for the Festival has grown significantly since the Festival's first year. He has been in the industry nine years and said it’s nice to come back to New Jersey where he grew up.
Jamie Sussner of Warren said she and her husband had a great time at the lunch and attended because they "had a blast" at the event two years ago. The contest is quite riveting and intriguing, she said.
“It was interesting. I don’t know a lot about wine myself so it’s interesting to hear experts talk about all those adjectives that I would never think of,” Sussner said.