Somms Step Up to the “Plates,” Food and a Flight, and the Secret Steak Dinner

Photos by Krystal Ramirez

One can say that sommeliers are competitive. A career that requires a lifelong dedication to studying everything wine, they are also experts at pairing food with the juice of fermented grapes. And when they are challenged to go head-to-head on a pairing competition, they will more than likely accept. The sommelier smackdown event held at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at Downtown Summerlin ( is an opportunity to see what these somms compete. For diners, the event is a three-course meal prepared by Chef Spencer Rudow, paired with two possible choices per course by two sommeliers. In the last showdown, sommeliers Jenna Boyer, of Lupo and Jason Jones of Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, stepped up to the “plates” and claimed their best pairings. Guests dine with an impressive lineup of six wines (three chosen by each sommelier) then vote on the best pairing, and the winning sommelier is announced. February’s meal included charred octopus salad with either an albariño or rosé; herb-roasted pork loin with either a Barbaresco or Morgon. For dessert, the espresso panna cotta was presented with Madeira or late-harvest cabernet/franc blend. It’s an amazing effort from both sides, and everyone dining wins with a hearty meal accompanied with plenty of wines. March 7 is the next sommelier smackdown and should be another deliciously good match.

Introducing the newest Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, ( “Savory Bites & Neon Lights” features an exclusive tasting at five prominent restaurants, followed by Maverick Helicopters’ renowned Vegas Nights flight over the Las Vegas Strip. The five-hour experience begins at Aria Resort & Casino and concludes at The Cosmopolitan, and includes a guided tour to each dining venue, VIP seating and up to four signature dishes at each restaurant. Imagine feasting on wild Burgundy escargots from Chef Michael Mina’s Bardot Brasserie, roasted veal sweetbreads from Chef Shawn McClain’s Sage, grilled octopus from Chef Costas Spiliadis’ Estiatorio Milos and short rib agnolotti from Chef Scott Conant’s Scarpetta. These are just a few highlights of the top-notch specialties that are set down immediately, with chefs offering greetings. After the dining experience, guests are transported to Maverick Helicopters’ private terminal, where they are greeted with a Champagne toast before their 12–15 minute Vegas Nights flight. The flight offers stunning panoramic views of the Las Vegas Strip with narration about the surrounding attractions. At the end of the flight, a Maverick limo coach will take patrons back to their hotel. The cost is $299 per person, with an optional $60 for all-inclusive beverages.

If there is a secret to be exposed, it’s the one happening at Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro ( inside The Palazzo. Offered each day of the week, the secret is the menu offered only at the bar or lounge area. For $58 per person, indulge in a three-course meal with unlimited wine, specifically chosen to pair with the dinner. Yes, unlimited. The wine comes from proprietary labels called Squirt Gun and Vanishing Point, which are part of Morels’ family portfolio of food and beverage entities. The cut of the steak changes each week, from 28-day aged petite filet and rib eye, to grass-fed or Prime New York cut. The steak is accompanied with whipped potatoes, Brussels sprouts and Boggiato Farms baby iceberg salad, with blue d’auvergne dressing.  Dessert arrives with two generously sized macaron ice cream sandwiches. While you’re there, ask for bread service to enjoy the housemade butter, as well as a trio of salt. Ask for Scott, who has become known as Morels’ “salt guy,” and he’ll explain everything you ever wanted to know about the differences in each.

Marisa Finetti savors with all five senses. Read more at or visit her blog,