Bartender vs Sommelier

Bartender vs Sommelier cheese wine cocktail pairing

For our final Secret Cocktail Club pop up of 2018, we put on a wine, cheese and cocktail pairing like no other.

In this challenge, we pitted bartender against sommelier to find out who can pair a libation best with cheese. It was a simple enough task. Take 3 cheeses and for the bartender, our chief drinker would pair it with 3 different cocktails whilst expert sommelier Vincenzo Cuomo chose 3 wines to pair with the cheese. Guests then scored each pairing as we went along, in an attempt to find out, if the Italians really do it better, and more importantly, if the bartender or sommelier would triumph.

With a theme of Italiano for the evening, the game was ON! Vincenzo would be a hard one to beat, with his enviable list of qualifications. Originating from the Amalfi Coast in Italy where he ran the wine section of a longstanding deli and wine shop in Positano, Vincenzo holds a sommelier diploma from the Association of Italian Sommeliers. He's also a cheese nerd and a member of the Slow Food Movement. Since arriving in Australia, he has worked at a number of establishments and nowadays you can find him working the floor on selected nights at Capriccio, an Italian restaurant in Leichhardt that is helmed by ex-Tetsuya chef Nicole Bamford. With all that under his belt, could it be possible for wee squeaks like us to pip him at the post?

The cheeses were all readily available at the Paesanella IGA in Haberfield and our line up ended up looking like this:

Pairing One

Smoked provola cheese paired with Vermentino Il Torchio 2016 (white wine) and Quincy Jones cocktail

Pairing two

Alta Badia cheese paired with Vermentino Nero 2017 (red wine( and Rhubarb Ba-Rosa cocktail

Pairing three

Aged Pecorino cheese paired with Tintilli Del Molise Reserva 2012 (red wine) and Mexicano cocktail

Bartender vs Sommelier wine and spirits lineup

The scores were close, but in the end, we JUST about pipped Vincenzo to the post! With some fun times and great conversations, the challenge represented a new style of tasting for us too - one that encouraged interaction and conversation at the table as to why they liked each pairing and what worked or didn’t work. Safe to say, there will be a rematch in the new year!

Bartender vs Sommelier final score

Bartender vs Sommelier final score