The 2014 TEXSOM Conference was held August 8th to 11th at the Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. The conference was co-presented by the organizations Guild of Sommeliers, Court of Master Sommeliers – Americas, Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and Society of Wine Educators. The conference attracts the nation’s top wine professionals and this year was no exception. There was a record total of 900 attendees including 39 Master Sommeliers (MS), 10 Certified Wine Educators (CWE), 6 Masters of Wine (MW), and other respected beverage industry professionals.
These are some of my highlights:
- I passed the Level 1 Introductory Sommelier Exam! More to come on that in a future blog post.
- Volunteers work very hard. We were told that very often and I believe it! Wine glasses were always poured at the seminars, cleaned up after, introductions given to seminar presenters, and someone was always there to help. I was told by one volunteer that they had polished 15,700 wine glasses before the start of the conference and of course had to keep them polished during the conference. I am very seriously considering volunteering at next year’s TEXSOM so I can help behind the scenes.
- Expectorate, expectorate, and expectorate. Note that’s not spit, spit, spit because that’s not classy just like drooling after expectorating isn’t either.
- It is always enjoyable meeting people you have met before at the previous year’s conference and seeing them again. Even better is meeting new people who you know you will see at next year’s conference.
- The hospitality suite wines, tasting break wines, and lunch wines were awesome! It was especially great after studying wine regions around the world and we were actually able to taste some of those wines which we might never be able to do.
- Seeing more Texas wineries being present at the conference along with most owners and winemakers. I hope attendees realized Texas actually does make some decent wine.
- Walking down a hotel aisle with co-founders Drew Hendricks MS and James Tidwell MS walking toward you while both of them recognize you and ask how things are going.
- After hours with friends talking and enjoying wine along with the late nights getting to know each better.
- Lunches had special wines provided by the sponsor along with brochures and information about the wine and region. One lunch was sponsored by Wines of Germany and a Riesling temporary tattoo was provided. TEXSOM photographer Courtney Perry told my table about the tattoo, talked a few people in applying it, and wanted me to tweet about it. After doing so, I had a thought and tweeted again what I personally thought was the best tweet of the conference with good sport Peter Plaehn who had placed the tattoo on his forehead.
These were the seminars I enjoyed during the conference:
- Sommeliers’ Guide to Oak presented by Peter Molnar, Jim Clarke, and Guillaume de Pracomtal. I had spoken to Guillaume de Pracomtal the night before at a dinner event and learned he worked at French and American cooperages (they make wine barrels). I need to visit a cooperage! 14 wines were tasted in the two-part seminar.
- A History of Napa Valley by Peter Marks MW. This was one of the most enjoyable seminars I have attended at a TEXSOM. Marks made most of the presentation like the game of Jeopardy and the audience was able to select a category and point value to answer a question. After giving the question (note Jeopardy?), Marks added more information about the answer.
- Pathways to Blind Tasting by Geoff Kruth MS and Matthew Citriglia MS. Kruth did not know the wines in advance and used a method of determining the wine which was different from the deductive tasting method. Citriglia then went through the grid method. Kruth was able to correctly identify the wine and region for four of the five wines! We tasted the same wines.
- Regional Focus: News from Chile and Argentina by Craig Collins MS and Peter Neptune MS AIWS CWE. Special guest Fred Dexheimer MS was also present since he is very familiar with Chile and Argentina. This was “news” for the countries as was evident by no Malbec from Argentina being served. Nine wines were tasted.
- Regional Focus: Franciacorta by Charles Curtis MW and Michael Franz. I don’t remember trying Franciacorta before but I certainly enjoyed the eight wines we tasted. It was great seeing Curtis saber a bottle of Franciacorta before the presentation.
- Exploring Vermouths and Aromatized Wines by Shelley Lindgren. I posted about this seminar previously. Eight vermouths were tasted.
See everybody next year!