Wine pros go head-to-head on SOMM TV’s “Sparklers”

Cooking competition shows are a dime a dozen these days, but there aren’t many — or at all? – that make wine a central part of the equation. sparklers, a new series from streaming service SOMM TV, does just that, challenging five wine professionals to develop dishes based on a limited range of ingredients in the sparkling wine-producing regions of Oregon, Italy and France. Taking place over 13 half-hour episodes, the format and judging of each battle changes a bit, sometimes pitting individuals against each other and other times creating team-based experiences, like episode two, when one has to fetch ingredients while the other prepares.

The mostly Napa-based cast – Maryam Ahmed, formerly of the Culinary Institute of America; George Walker III of Wade Cellars and Meghan Zobeck of Burgess Cellars feature two SoCal stars: Claire Coppi of Sushi Note in Los Angeles and Matthew Kaner, the famed sommelier behind Bar Covell and Augustine who grew up in Santa Barbara. Unlike competitors on other, more ruthless cooking shows, where the jokes border on angst and anger, sparklers the stars are extremely collegial and supportive of each other, striving to win every challenge. This pleasant tone makes learning about each region, character and ingredient all the more enjoyable, easy to pair with your own glass of wine at home.

To see summittv.comwhich also offers free podcasts, including my recent conversation with Somm franchise founder Jason Wise about the Ocean Fathoms underwater wine project off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The cast of sparklers, left to right: George Walker III, Maryam Ahmed, Claire Coppi, Meghan Zobeck and Matthew Kaner. | Credit: Courtesy

Elisha A. Tilghman