How to Prepare for TEXSOM

What to Pack for TEXSOM

I’m super excited for next week.  I’ve been asked to be part of the Media Team for the upcoming TEXSOM Conference in Dallas.  This incredible event started in 2005 to help showcase wine in Texas and bring Sommeliers together.  What it has become is a huge event with incredible speakers and a showcase of wine that would be hard to find anywhere.  I’ve been told that there is numerous sherries this year to sample.

As I was talking with my son this weekend, he asked how I would prepare for such an event.  With so many beverages to try from wines, to fortified wines, to Sake and Tea (from Cultured Cup – Love their Products), where do you begin.  More importantly, what am I bringing to enjoy the Conference but to capture it as well?  Here’s my list of items that I know I need to have ready.

Note Taking Materials

There is a great deal of information shared at TEXSOM.  Sometimes I feel that in a positive way, it’s almost too much and that’s a great problem to have.  Think about it this way.  If there are 500 beverages to try, I’m the type of person that needs to take notes on these for future reference.  Therefore, I plan on bringing the following items to help:

  • Tasting sheets that I’ve developed (and will go on sale shortly on Amazon) that I can use a highlighter to accurately describe the beverage,
  • Click pencils and plenty of leads and erasers,
  • Small notepad for quick notes,
  • Highlighters of course, and
  • A sling bag / small backpack that I can carry around that’s lightweight, small to be stored under tables, etc. and has lots of pockets.

Note taking is exceptionally important.  We all learn in different ways, so I play to my strengths in my system for taking notes.  I have a photographic memory for faces but not dates or names.  Therefore, I take notes to highlight my strengths.  By taking a picture of the bottle and writing some quick notes, it allows me to review and instantly describe the beverage.  Recently, I found some of my notes from wines I tried from 2009 and in a few seconds, was able to relive the wine easily. 

Business Cards

I always carry some in my wallet, but I will travel with more for the Conference.  I love giving them out but love receiving them more.  I find it’s a personal connection to the person.  BTW, one fun fact I learned years ago is to follow up with whoever gave you a card within a few days.  I will always write a note to them just to say it was a pleasure meeting them, or following up with information, etc. 

Comfortable Clothes and Footwear

After attending a number of Conventions and Judging numerous Culinary Competitions, I would like to thank Chef Paul Malcolm for the suggestion years ago related to compression socks.  It may sound different, but these are a lifesaver.  I will be moving around from 6 am to maybe 10 pm each day.  That is a lot of wear and tear, and the compression socks are a dream.  I pair these with comfy shoes with gel insoles that cushion your feet during long standing periods.

I tend to dress in layers now that are comfy.  These events are either hot or very cold due to air conditioning.  TEXSOM tends to be cold, so I’ll bring layers (sport coats, jackets, cardigans) to help with the day.  If I get hot, I can remove one and be comfortable. 


The food at the Wine Awards this Year was top notch (and that’s a chef saying that).  The meals are great and filling.  However, during the day and sipping on samples, I know that I need to keep something in my stomach to help.  Bring whatever snacks you like (as long as they do not have odors that will interfere with tastings) if you think you need them.  I normally bring the following items (again in my lightweight pack):

  • Granola bars,
  • Luna Lemon bars (love these),
  • Starlight mints, and
  • small chocolates.

Finding water is not a problem.  Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino sponsor the event, so I’m never worried about bringing water with me.  BTW, I have an app on my phone that reminds me to drink water throughout the day.  At these events, you can’t hydrate enough which will help with your pace.

Charging Cables and Portable Battery Chargers

Since I’ll be writing a great deal for the Conference and Blogging, I know my phone will need to be charged.  I have battery backup chargers that I always carry with me.  However, I also purchased a small travel, extension cord charger with USB ports for easy use.  That way, I can keep everything charged throughout the day. 

BTW…do not forget to bring your charging cables.  For myself, that’s exceptionally important since I use a slightly different cable system to charge my devices.

A Curious Mindset to Learn

I just watched a video this weekend about opening your mind to new things.  This one is hard for me.  Being a chef is all about making decisions on what you will do to prepare something.  While there are hundreds of ways to do it, you have to make a choice and follow through on it.  However, I try to always learn a new way to prepare dishes with better techniques that are more efficient and give a better result.

When I go to a conference like TEXSOM, every morning I tell myself before meeting anyone that today is a day to learn, and you know nothing.  My motto is:

  • Become a Sponge today!!!

Why Do I say this?  During each day, I’m going to interact with many people, all with different backgrounds.  They have all learned different things from different people, books, environments, etc.  It’s my opportunity to learn and grow.  Therefore, I have to keep an open mind.

I make it a point to meet new people each day and share time with them to learn about them.  People today call this networking.  My name for it is exciting interactions.  My goal is to always learn.  If someone wants to share information with me, I’ll gladly take it so I can grow and become more educated.  I also share my knowledge with others like these articles.  Having this mindset at the conference every moment makes it more enjoyable.

Final Thoughts

As I start to pack, I will be gathering all of the above materials to get ready.  I’m super excited to attend and to share as much of this information with you over the next week.  Ask me questions and follow along.  This is one of the best events ever.  I plan to stay hydrated and enjoy every minute of it. 

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