For the second year in a row, an Austin sommelier took home the top prize at the TEXSOM Best Sommelier Competition on Monday evening.
The competition, staged at Texas’ big internationally known wine education conference this weekend in Irving, pitted winner Nathan Fausti, of Italian restaurant Olive & June, against 23 other sommeliers in a rigorous three-part wine examination, according to a press release.
Like past Best Sommelier match-ups, the competition consisted of tests surrounding service, blind tasting and theory. New this year, however, was a wider pool of wine-loving candidates who could participate: TEXSOM organizers opened it up to sommeliers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and, of course, Texas. Previously, only Texas sommeliers were able to compete.
TEXSOM co-founder James Tidwell said in the press release that he and co-founder Drew Hendricks decided to let in more Best Sommelier candidates to reflect the scope and impact of the TEXSOM conference, which just wrapped up its 11th year.
“Increasingly, the influence of TEXSOM reaches well beyond the borders of Texas, so we felt it was time to include a potentially larger group to participate,” Tidwell said in the release.
The conference, a gathering of wine professionals attending seminars and tastings of regional, national and international wines, has helped to develop and nurture an ever-growing community of Texas sommeliers, wine experts who provide important services to restaurants, bars and other businesses.
With his win, Fausti doesn’t just get to lay claim to the title of the new TEXSOM Best Sommelier. He’ll also get to continue his wine education thanks to a scholarship of $2,500 from the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. He’ll apply it toward a Court of Master Sommeliers certification program, according to the press release.
Last year’s winner, Joelle Cousins, was the general manager of the Red Room Lounge, a wine bar in downtown Austin.