COCHON555 Somm Smackdown Event

As wine lovers, we love what the Cochon555 stands for. Their manifesto declares the following belief:

“Whether vegetables or animals, spices or wine varietals, these building blocks of cuisine must be cherished and preserved as we do other types of artistic heritage in society.”

Generally, people think about wine less often than food as art, or agricultural products for that matter. Making wine a significant component of the event that promotes heritage breed pigs makes so much sense, as family farmers—whether for pigs or wine grapes—should be celebrated, and their craft does need public support in order to keep turning out their beautiful work for us to enjoy!

One of the ways Cochon555 spotlights wine is through the Somm Smackdown event, which features local ATX wine talent! The all-star lineup for Sunday includes:

  • Krista Church, Parkside and The Backspace
  • Mandi Nelson, New Waterloo Restaurant Group
  • Ken Freeman, Italic
  • Jacob Brown, Counter 3.FIVE.VII
  • Lindsay Drew, Caroline
  • Rand Egbert, Emmer and Rye (Defending Champ)
2016 Somm Smackdown Competitors (Pictured Above)

Each somm will pick any ONE wine to pair with 30 pork dishes (each of 5 chefs will have 6 preparations). We chatted with Mandi, a Somm Smackdown veteran having competed in 2016, and Krista about what to expect on Sunday, and here’s what they had to say!


  • KRISTA’S PICK: For her wine, she was looking for a wine with nice, high acid to cut through fat, as well as a tiny bit of residual sugars to round out the dishes. Aware that some dishes may have some glazes, she also wanted the touch of sweetness to be able to hold up (wine needs to be sweeter than the dish), so it had to be something slightly off dry.
  • SUGGESTED WINE PAIRINGS: As far as suggested wine pairings with pork you should remember for the event (there will be 40+ wines being served from 6 different winemakers), look for bubbles, rosé or sparkling rosé, a heavy chardonnay, riesling, light reds that are slightly tannic, or a Côtes du Rhône or Côtes du Rhône blanc.
  • WHAT KRISTA’S EXCITED ABOUT: Krista is especially looking forward to wines from Pax Wine Cellars. Their wines are innovative, fun, and are known for turning the industry out west on its head by using atypical varietals for that area. The winemaker, Pax Mahle, is also known for Wind Gap Wines, a separate project that has produced very well-known orange wines.
  • KRISTA’S TIPS: Even if you’re planning on spitting, hydration is most important! Try to spread yourself out by having some wines and food in spurts and then giving your palate a chance to reset.


  • MANDI’S PICK: For her wine pick, Mandi focused on selecting a wine that would accent and not overpower or compete with the flavors of the various pork dishes, something fruit-driven and juicy with no oak and not overly tannic.
  • SUGGESTED WINE PAIRINGS: Mandi suggests looking out for chilled beaujolais, pinot noir, sparklings like Lambrusco (last year’s winner!), and Syrah from Northern Rhône. The latter is an often forgotten varietal that is great with BBQ (which there’s sure to be plenty of at the event), burgers and steak.
  • MANDI’S TIPS: Each competing somm has only a case of their selected wine, so it’s worth grabbing VIP tickets to make sure you can taste all of the Somm Smackdown wines. As far as tasting tips, spitting is appropriate with this many wines and—of course—drink Topo Chico!

Come join us at Cochon555 on Sunday to see what wines each somm picked and who will be crowned the winner!

All photo credits: Cochon555


Sunday, August 20, 2017
VIP 4pm – 8pm
GA 5pm – 8pm
Four Seasons Austin