Somm Madness Tournament

Somm Madness brings together the nation’s sommelier community and wine aficionados for a blind tasting tournament. Sixty-four individuals go head-to-head to advance to the championship round with the ultimate hope of taking home the grand prize: $10,000 cash. New in 2020 will be a $1,000 cash prize to final four contestants and a $2,000 cash prize to the runner-up, bringing the grand total to $15,000 in cash prizes.

April 19, 2020
5pm - 7:30pm :: Tailgate Tasting
6pm - 9pm :: Somm Madness Tasting Tournament

Builders BLDG
222 N LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60601



Each participant will partake in a blind tasting and have a specified amount of time to provide written answers in accordance with the Court of Master Sommelier (CMS) Standards. The winner(s) advance to the next round. In ROUND 5 + CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND, participants must provide answers verbally in accordance with CMS Standards.

Round 1: 64

32 Matches  •  1 Wine  •  90 seconds

Round 2: 32

16 Matches  •  1 Wine  •  90 seconds

Round 3: Sweet 16

8 Matches  •  2 Wines  •  3 minutes

Round 4: Elite 8

4 Matches  •  2 Wines  •  3 minutes

Round 5: Final 4*

2 Matches  •  2 Wines  •  3 minutes

Round 6: Championship*

1 Match  •  2 Wines  •  3 minutes

*Participants must provide answers verbally in accordance with CMS Standards

All contestants and spectators must purchase Tailgate Tasting ticket. See 'TICKET' tab 

2019 Final Bracket


  • Joseph Spellman

    Master Sommelier 

    Frequent instructor + examiner in Court of Master Sommeliers. Named "Best Sommelier in the World in French Wines & Spirits" and 1998's Bon Appetit "Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year." Contributor to Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Sante, Decanter, and Appellation.

  • Fred Dame

    Master Sommelier 

    Most of the renowned and revered sommeliers in the world. Global Wine Ambassador for DAOU Vineyards & Winery. Founder of the American Branch of the Court of Master Sommeliers. Former Vice President of Prestige Accounts for American Wine & Spirits of California. An inductee of the American Academy of Chef's Hall of Fame. One of only 250 individuals worldwide to have passed the Master Sommelier Examination. Winner of the coveted Krug Cup of British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Active member of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs. Chairman of Board of Holds honorary professorships at Purdue University and The University of South Carolina.

  • John Laloganes

    Author & Director of Beverage Management, Kendall College 

    IACP 2012's "Sommelier/Wine Steward of the Year." Founder and educator of Kendall's Wine Professional Program. Laureate Global Products & Services Award for Innovation. Beverage Book Judge for International Association of Culinary Professionals. Author of highly-acclaimed books such as The Essentials of Wine & Food Pairing Techniques and more.

  • Amelia Singer

    International Wine Personality 

    International wine influencer and TV personality will be judging for the first time in 2020. Amelia is one of the star personalities on “The Wine Show,” a hit series on Hulu. This is Amelia’s first Somm Madness.


The Preparty to the Main Event

Before and during the first half of the competition is the “Tailgate Tasting,” Somm Madness’ pre-party. The pre-party consists of a grand walk-around reception featuring over 80 tables and 300+ wines as well as endless hors d’oeuvres and stationed cuisine. Wineries include some of the most iconic names in the world while tasting stations include an extravagant seafood display, filet carving station, from-scratch pasta station as well as signature desserts. A portion of ticket sales in 2020 will benefit James Beard Foundation's Impact Programs.

2019 Tailgate Tasting Wineries Included:

A to Z, Achaval Ferrer, Albert Bichot, Alexander Valley, Antinori, Argot, Banfi, Beckham, Belle Glos, Bertani, Blackbird, Bruno Giacosa, Cade, Cakebread, Caymus, Chappellett, Charles Heidsieck, Charles Smith, Chateau le Nerthe,Cloudy Bay, Daou, Donnafugata, Duckhorn, Dutton, Goldfield, Faust, Fetzer, Flowers, Foxen, Franciscan, Fredrick Wildman, Gallo, Heitz, Henriot, Hess, Hourglass, Hyland, Inglenook, Jackson Family, Jordan, Joseph Phelps, Justin, Laurent Perrier, Martin Ray, Moet Hennessey, Montes Alpha, Mt Veeder, Odette, Orin Swift, Pahlmeyer, Palm Bay, Paul Hobbs, Plumpjack, Rex Hill, Ridge, Robert Mondavi, Ruffino, Santa Margarita, Scarpetta, Shafer, Shannon Ridge, Siduri, Silver Oak, Simi, St Suprey, Tattinger, Terlato, The Prisoner Wine Co, Trinchero, Van Duzer, Vietti, Westmount, Whispering Angel, Winderlea