Henry Bishop was the longtime sommelier of Spiaggia, but more than that, he was a mentor to many of the people who now rank as the city's top sommeliers before his death in 2009. Now Spiaggia is holding an event/fundraiser November 14 pitting many of those top sommeliers against each other. It's called the first Sommelier Smackdown, with the sommeliers pairing wines with a five-course dinner; Alpana Singh will cohost and the ten contestants will include Aaron Sherman (Girl & the Goat), Jason Wagner (RM Champagne Salon), Tona Palomino (The Trenchermen), Rachael Lowe and Shebnem Ince (Henri, The Gage). Tickets are $195, with the first $50 going to the Cancer Research Foundation; to reserve, call 312-280-2759 or email email@example.com.
Meanwhile Ince has shared her own memories of Bishop on her blog, What We Drank, and they deserve a read:
Now this tall, serious guy was smiling and animated, because this is what happens when you love wine and you find people that love wine like you do. I expressed my budgetary limitations (probably $25 for wine at the time) and gave him the reigns. Pretty soon I had about 10-15 small pours of wine in front of me, in elegant stemware, mainly from the borders (he loved the 'borders', where one country met another, especially in Northern Italy, where Swiss, Austrian and Slovenian culture bled into the Italian mountain cultures) and also, from Ohio. Oh, and Virginia.