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Top Sommeliers of USA To Judge Wines for Restaurants

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01/03/2019 The Sommeliers Choice Awards will feature an all-star judging panel of top sommeliers, wine directors, and on-premise buyers.

The upcoming Sommeliers Choice Awards is going to take place in San Francisco in May 2019. Over the course of a two-day period (May 19-20), the judges will decide upon the wines that should be added to restaurant wine lists around the nation.

Meet the judges

A distinguishing feature of the Sommeliers Choice Awards is the focus on celebrating wines that display the highest commercial potential for on-premise establishments. Award-winning wines at the event are the types of wines that customers are likely to order again and again. For that reason, the judges of the Sommeliers Choice Awards are sommeliers and beverage directors at some of the most prestigious restaurants and hospitality venues in the nation. The list of judges includes the following:

  • Jennifer Gomez – Sommelier and Beverage Director, The Cavalier (San Francisco)

  • Ryan Baldwin – Head Sommelier, Waldorf Astoria (Chicago)

  • Rachel Candelaria – Sommelier, Spruce (San Francisco)

  • Jared Sowinski – Director of Beverage, The Phoenician (Arizona)

  • Gary Russell, Sommelier, The Ritz-Carlton (Florida)

  • Jacob Conn – Sommelier, Bellagio (New York)

  • Max Coane – Head Sommelier, Saison (San Francisco)

  • Luke Kenning – Wine Director, Farallon Restaurant

  • Sandeep Jaswal – Head Sommelier/Cellar Master, Royal Caribbean Cruises

  • Sharyn Kervyn, CSW – Wine Director, The Capital Grille

  • Tarik Bouslama – Beverage Manager/Sommelier, Think Food Group

“We’re really excited about this talented and very prominent group of judges that will be evaluating wines in the upcoming Sommeliers Choice Awards,” says Sid Patel, Founder, and CEO of Beverage Trade Network, the organizer of the event. “All of them bring a unique background to the competition and a keen sense of what restaurants should be carrying on their wine lists.”

Judging criteria

A total of five different factors – including typicity, value, quality, and package – will be used to evaluate all wines in the competition. In addition, wines will be rated and evaluated for how well they pair with different food dishes. By assigning a specific weight to each of these factors, it will be possible to arrive at a score on a 100-point scale. Wines scoring 96+ will win Double Gold, wines scoring between 90 and 95 will win Gold, wines scoring between 80 and 89 will win Silver, and wines scoring between 70 and 79 will win Bronze. In addition, judges will mark wines “BTG” if they think the wine would be a good fit for a restaurant by-the-glass wine program.

Top 100 Wines Guide and other marketing support

After the completion of all judging, the top 100 wines in the competition will become part of a Top 100 on-premise Wines Guide that will be made available to on-premise buyers and sommeliers within the wine industry. The wines included in the guide will be those that come with a recommendation for addition to a restaurant wine list.

Thus, entering wines in the upcoming Sommeliers Choice Awards is an excellent way to get in front of top sommeliers, wine directors, on-premise buyers, and wine consultants. Every award-winning wine comes with a mark of quality and distinction. “Our hope is that many of the wines that score highly in the competition will eventually be added to restaurant wine lists around the nation,” says Patel. Media partners such as BevRoute Magazine, Food & Beverage Magazine and the Society of Wine Educators will also help to promote the award-winning wines.

Timing and dates

Submission Deadline: April 10, 2019

Warehouse closes for Samples: May 05, 2019

Judging dates: May 19-20, 2019

Results declared: June 10, 2019

About Beverage Trade Network

Beverage Trade Network (BTN) hosts events, competitions, expos, tastings, and conferences for the alcohol beverage industry on a global basis. BTN hosts the USA Trade Tasting event in New York, the International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show in San Francisco, London and Shanghai, and a number of other events in Asia, Europe, and North America.

Beverage Trade Network is dedicated to helping producers and brand owners get closer to buyers, distributors, and retailers. As part of this mission, Beverage Trade Network organizes events as part of a wider drinks initiative to introduce new brands, producers and manufacturers to the global marketplace. China represents the newest expansion of this global drinks initiative.

For more information on Beverage Trade Network:


2025 Sommeliers Choice Awards Submissions Are Open Now. Enter your Wines To Get In Front Of On-Premise Buyers. International and Domestic Wine Submission Period Now Open.