The Sommelier Smackdown



“Move over, Iron Chef. The latest hot culinary competition is the popular “Sommelier Smackdown,” which pits two wine experts in a palate-to-palate showdown at the Wine School of Philadelphia. Armed with the same menu, the two contestants – an instructor and a sommelier from a local restaurant – purchase wines from local retailers to complement each dish. Attendees then decide the winner after tasting the food-wine pairings.” from the October 25th edition of Zagat’s Buzz Newsletter

Welcome to Philly’s food & wine tasting extravaganza!

The Food & Wine Competition

Take the best sommeliers in the Delaware Valley, the region’s only independent wine school, a four-snack menu, and a challenge too tempting to refuse. What do you get? The Sommelier Smackdown!

In each episode of the Smackdown, the contestestants are given the evenings menu and a small stack of cash. There job is simple: create the best food & wine experience in less than an hour.

You are the Wine & Food Critic

At the smackdown, you get to turn the tables on the food & wine professionals. You get to choose the winner. Sure, they have years of experience, but its only your opinon that counts this time. Have fun and vote your palate.

Learn the Sommelier Secrets

The Sommelier Smackdown is a master class in food & wine pairing, with two teachers. During the class, the sommeliers will talk to you about why & how they created each food and wine pairing, and you will taste the results. Could it get any better than this?

The Sommeliers of the Smackdown

The best & brighest wine personalities in Philadelphia have competed. Here are a few of them.

  • Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Justin Timsit
  • Anthony Masapollo
  • Cyril Addison
  • Eric Arnold
  • Christophe Tassan
  • Ryan Davis
  • Mark Hoyt
  • Christophe Guillot
  • Jason Whiteside
  • Eric Miller
  • Ryan Margolis
  • Benny Robling
  • Jeff Bloom


somm smack

Sommelier Smackdown: The original 2003 Logo


Compete in the Smackdown!

Are you a sommelier, published author, or a chef? You can compete in the Sommelier Smackdown!

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 4,500 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 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!

If you are interested in competing in the Sommelier Smackdown, please contact us. You don’t have to be a sommelier. We also feature winemakers, brewers, chefs, and authors.

The Smackdown Begins

And that’s when the fun really begins. In front of a sold-out audience at the Wine School, the 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. In  September 2016, the school has a readership of over 37,000 people. This is the kind of  exposure that simply can’t be bought.




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