The Sommelier Smackdown is one of the most popular and entertaining food and wine events in Philadelphia. Since 2004, the Wine School has offered this unique and widely popular event to the public. Over 1,500 people have attended a Sommelier Smackdown, with seats selling out two months prior, on average.
What is this Smackdown, you ask? It’s a copywritten and original event created by Keith Wallace which is held exclusively at the Wine School of Philadelphia. It challenges two top-notch restaurant or wine professionals in a food and wine pairing competition.
The contestants are given the menu –often coming directly from our bestselling Corked & Forked cookbook– several days before the event. Along with the menu, the Wine School supplies a stipend for the wine. Cash and menu in hand, the contestants purchase wines from a local PLCB wine shop. No special trips to the wine cellar allowed!
And that’s when the fun really begins. In front of a sold-out audience at the Wine School, the two contestants present their pairing while the audience samples the menu items. The beauty of this event is that it is a uniformly positive experience for all involved. Even the most shy and taciturn of sommeliers and industry professionals thoroughly enjoy their moment in the sun at the Wine School. Most importantly, it gives an audience enjoys a night with two brilliant culinary minds.
It is not just sommeliers and restaurateurs from Philadelphia that are featured in the Smackdown. Winemakers such as Louis-Fabrice Latour, national personalities like Gary Vaynerchuk, bestselling authors like Benjamin Wallace have also competed. Even executive chefs and local brewmasters have joined in the fun. There are two simple reasons: first, because it gives them exclusive exposure to a influential and highly targeted audience, and second, because it’s a damn hoot.
Smackdowns are held once a month in the evening, typically one the last Wednesday of the month. The event is also promoted to the local media and the Wine School’s own publishing wing. As of September 2012, the school has a readership of over 30,000 people. This is the kind of exposure that simply can’t be bought.
Audited Media Outreach of the Wine School of Philadelphia