A sommelier Smackdown, Southeast Asian-Style


If you know Keith Wallace, founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, you know he’s a little, well, politically incorrect. But if you can stand the heat (and one spring semester student couldn’t–she was the first to withdraw since the school opened ten years ago because of Wallace’s off-brand humor), you probably take mischievous delight in cackling at his shocking comments. If you fall into this category you need to go, at least once, to watch him emcee the school’s monthly Sommelier Smackdown.

The next one is Wednesday, June 26, and it will pit Davio’s som, Kevin McCann, against wine school education director, Zach Morris, who never met a wine question he couldn’t answer. Super popular in these days of TV chef cook-offs and competitions, here’s how it works: a few days before the contest, Wallace gives both his instructor and the guest som the snack menu and some cash. The contestants spend the money to buy four rounds of wine from the state stores that they think will best pair with the hors d’oeuvres being served. Come the night of the smackdown, the audience decides whose pairings worked best.

Fresh from a trip to Vietnam and Thailand, Wallace is cooking the Southeast Asian food himself, and emails that his wife is “pissed that I have all this awesome homemade kimchi in the house. Smells like a zombie fart whenever the fridge is opened.” He describes the menu — Ripe Jackfruit & Mango with Chilies, Housemade Kimchi & miso soup, Bahn Mi with Lemongrass and Chicken, Fresh Dumplings with pork & cucumber – and notes that Asian food is notoriously hard to pair.

Once the winner is decided, everyone makes fun of the loser and catches a buzz and some wicked humor in the process. What’s not to love?

Tickets are $75 and reservations are recommended.

Wine School of Philadelphia [Official]