THE IRON SOMMELIER – 1 DISH, 3 SOMMELIERS, 3 JUDGES, 3 WINES, 3 BEERS
by Shelley Boettcher,
photos by Regan Johnson
Not every food and wine (or beer) pairing
is spectacular, but sometimes, as in life,
it’s good to take risks.
Maybe you’ll find a brilliant match. Maybe you won’t.
But if you don’t try something new, you’ll never
know what it might have been.
With that in mind, a small group of sommeliers,
chefs and culinary-minded folk gathered at Cilantro
on a sunny afternoon in March.
They were all taking part in City Palate’s 13th
annual Iron Sommelier Challenge.
They had just one goal: to find two perfect pairings –
one beer and one wine – for the dish.
Our chef and his dish
A bison short rib braised in red wine and Coca Cola
atop a butter poached parsnip purée with sumac
roasted carrots, garnished with mustard and arugula
microgreens. Prepared by Lance Monteiro, chef at
Cilantro and Urban Butcher, and his team, it was
served at the recently renovated Cilantro on 17th
The way it works:
This year, the sommeliers had to pair one beer and one wine with chef Monteiro’s dish.
Each sommelier had an opportunity to try the dish a few days earlier, before the official
judging, so they then could go away, taste like mad and come up with what they believed
were the perfect pairings.
A few days later, they had to present their choices to the three judges, who then had to
taste the dish with each of the selected beers and wines.
Once the booze was poured and the tasting started, sommeliers and judges were kept
apart, so the sommeliers couldn’t influence the judges’ opinions.
Finally, as a group, the judges had to choose one beer and one wine that they felt paired
best with the dish.
And all along the way, they shared their opinions on each pairing with City Palate.
Read entire article in the digital issue of City Palate.