August 19, 2014

Rosey on over to pink winesAustin Culinary school students have something to be excited about this week as Joelle Cousins of Austin’s Red Room Lounge has been named the best sommelier in the state of Texas. Cousins bested a crowd of two dozen other entrants to claim her title as the most revered wine server, expert, and enthusiast in the Lone Star State. For her prize, Cousins will receive a $2,500 scholarship to be put to use for the continuation of her sommelier education.

The competition was put on by TEXSOM, an organization of professional and aspiring sommeliers in Texas. Known as one of the foremost wine education conferences in the world, winning an award from TEXSOM is no small honor. In fact, Cousins joins only five other sommeliers from Austin – Devon Broglie, Mark Sayre, June Rodil, Bill Elsey and Scott Ota – to have ever won the coveted honor.  Speaking to Austin CultureMap, Cousins indicated that her success was due largely in part to the strong culture of sommeliers and wine enthusiasts developing in Austin.

“I’m thrilled to receive this honor. I attribute my success to an incredibly strong and collaborative sommelier culture in Austin. We are dedicated to helping each other continually learn more about wine and how we can provide the best experience possible for our customers,” Cousins told CultureMap. “It’s great to be able to study with like-minded people who are dedicated to making the wine scene in Austin the best.”

Another Austin-based sommelier, Nathan Fausti of Arro Restaurant, took third in the competition {seems redundant}, while Rene Fagoaga of the Four Seasons Hotel Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas took the runner up spot. Fagoaga and Fausti will receive $1,500 and $1,000 scholarships, respectively, to put towards their continuing sommelier education. In a sense, Fagoaga was the hometown favorite, as the 2014 TEXSOM conference and competition were held at the Four Seasons Hotel Resort and Club Dallas.