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Liz Kowal

Wine Certificate Instructor, Hospitality at College of DuPage

11 years ago I began studying wine and working in the hospitality industry as a second career. I have a bachelor's degree in Communications and spent many years in sales and marketing before transitioning. I worked in restaurants in high school and college and have always had a passion for learning about food and culture. Wine is an interdisciplinary study  for me that connects history, culture, language, science, art and more. I have used my studies to advance my accomplishments and to share my knowledge with guests and students. 

I  have been honored to compete in many blind tasting events and I love the challenge and opportunity to grow in my wine analysis abilities. Wine education is my passion and I am looking to continue my certifications and studies to teach others about wine, both as a working Sommelier and an educator.

Here are some of my additional qualifications and accomplishments:

One of 100 National participants in the Ruinart Challenge, Chicago, May 2023
Second Place $3000 winner, WineRival Blind Tasting Tournament, Chicago, September 2022. Perfect  score in round 1, Judges Amelia Singer, DLynn Proctor and John Laloganes.
Italian Trade Commission "Taste the Passion Training Course" Completed with Honors, May 2022
Italian Wine Scholar Program Unit 2 Central and Southern Italy, Passed with Honors, June 2021
Top Scorer SommFoundation "Exploring California Viognier" Competition, April 2022
Perfect Score SommFoundation "SommSessions Cool & Coastal Pinot Noir" $500 Scholarship, Sept. 2021
BarSmarts Professional Course, August 2020
Winner/Top Scorer of Geja's 49th Professional Blind Tasting Competition, Chicago, November 2019
One of 30 selected participants in Austria's Best Sommelier Competition, Chicago, October  2019
One of 25 selected participants in Languedoc Wines National Sommelier Challenge, Chicago, June 2019
One of 100 National participants in the Ruinart Challenge, Chicago, April 2019
Winner Round 1 Somm Madness Blind Tasting Tournament, April 2019  (Ranked at  #15 out of 64 competitors as an underdog, beat a #2. Tied in Second Round against a  #7)
Winner of the Chicago Luxicon Blind Tasting and Essay Competition sponsored by Treasury Estates, September 2018 (featured in January 2019 edition of Somm Journal) https://www.sommjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/somm-journal-dec2018-jan2019_digital.pdf
Wine Appreciation and Knowledge Certificate Instructor at the College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL 2017 – present
Passed Certified Court of Masters Exam (first attempt), April 2016
Geneva Wine Cellars, Sommelier & Buyer, 2014 - present

Meet the other judges

Valerie Cao

Director of Operations and Beverage Director at Le Colonial Chicago

John Maraffa

Corporate Beverage Manager, Morton's The Steakhouse | Strip House Steakhouse & Cocktail Lounge | Morton's Grille