First Press This Month Vol. 27 No. 10

Serafin Alvarado, Master Sommelier and Director of Wine Education at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits To Judge 2024 Sommeliers Choice Awards


Serafin Alvarado’s love of wine began more than decade ago, as a room service waiter for Hilton Hotels in his native Puerto Rico. It was the beginning of a career path that would ultimately lead him to achieve the remarkable distinction of becoming a Master Sommelier (M.S.) in 2005, achieving the status that only 149 other North Americans have reached after passing the rigorous M.S. examination. Serafin has also turned his passion for wine into a successful career, working in positions in wine service, wine sales and most recently, wine education, joining Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Illinois, the largest wine wholesaler in the United States headquartered in Miami, Florida, as Director of Wine Education.

In October of 2005, Serafin received the Bill Rice distinguished Sommelier of the Year Award for his contribution to the culture of food & wine in the city of Chicago. Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine included Serafin Alvarado among 40 outstanding individuals, local to the Chicago area, who have made a major impact in their respective industries before the age of 40. Former winners include professional actors and athletes, presidents and CEOs of major Fortune 500 companies, and high ranking political figures. Crain’s calls these rising stars “The Top 40 Under 40”. Most recently, Johnson & Wales University recognized Serafin as their 4th Distinguished Visiting Master Sommelier.

What makes Sommeliers Choice Awards unique is that this competition is judged by respected top master sommeliers, sommeliers, wine directors, and on-premise buyers of the USA – precisely the people who understand what is required of a given wine to add value and interest to the wine list or in the glass program.

Here are some of the judges who will participate in the 2024 Sommeliers Choice Awards.

● WAYNE BELDING MS, Master Sommelier and Partner at Preferably, Colorado

● PETER GRANOFF MS, Master Sommelier, Wine Educator, Speaker, Entrepreneur, San Francisco

BRIAN KOZIOL MS, Master Sommelier at Maverick Beverage Company, Chicago

● RACHEL LOWE, Director of Beverage for Levy Restaurants.

● ALEXANDER POWELL MS, Master Sommelier and Senior Wine Manager at Grill 23 & Bar, Boston

● LISA SELMAN CSS, Alchemy Room Beverage Director

● KYUNGMOON KIM MS, Master Sommelier

● VINCENT MORROW MS, Master Sommelier and Wine Director at PRESS Napa Valley, San Francisco

● BRANDON TEBBE, MS, Master Sommelier

● SERAFIN ALVARADO MSm Master Sommelier and Director of Wine Education at Southern Wine & Spirits

● SCOTT BARBER, President at Green Pin Wines

● LARISSA C DUBOSE, National Director Beverages- Dining Division at Paradies Lagardère and Wine Enthusiast Magazine Future 40, Vino Volo National Buyer

● BRANDON BIERLEIN, Director of Food & Beverage, Talbott Hotel Chicago

● GUILLERMO BRAVO, Beverage Director at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Chicago

● ALLISON CURATOLO, Wine Director RPM Italian Las Vegas

● ANIKA ELLISON, Wine Manager, Swift & Sons Steakhouse, Chicago

● KRISTIN FRANCESCO, Sommelier at Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, Chicago

● JAMIE HARRISON RUBIN, Procurement & Placements at Culinary Conservatory

● COLIN HOFER, General Manager of Restaurants, Four Seasons Chicago

● JENNIFER KNOTT, Director of Beverage for Levy at Chicago Symphony Orchestra

● JOSH KING, Director of Food and Beverage, Virgin Hotels, Chicago

● JOHN MARAFFA, Corporate Beverage Manager, Morton’s The Steakhouse | Strip House Steakhouse & Cocktail Lounge | Morton’s Grille

● JON MCDANIEL, Founder & CEO of Ottantadu

● TIFFANY TOBEY, Owner and Sommelier, Tiffany’s Toast, Dallas, Texas

View the full panel of the 2024 Sommeliers Choice Awards judges here.

For wine brands looking to grow their on-premise presence in the USA, get the Super Early Bird price by registering online. Enter Your Wines By October 31 and Save $40 per Wine. Get Product Feedback, Market Feedback and Tasting Notes From On-Premise Buyers and Master Sommeliers.

The goal of the Sommeliers Choice Awards is simple: to provide on-premise buyers and sommeliers a valuable benchmark for understanding which wines would make a compelling addition to a wine list

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