Food & Wine day one: Drinks all day
The 35th annual Food & Wine Classic kicked off Friday with its usual bang of seminars, tastings, parties and other delights. As the newspaper of record in Aspen, we felt it our job to report on the happenings and dispatched our team to cover “drinks all day.” Cheers!
Rosé All Day
When a Food & Wine panel discussion begins with the words “Rosé is my bitch,” you know it’s going to be a good one. And indeed, Leslie Sbrocco — author of “Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine” and “The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide” — led a raucous celebration of the drink pink movement at her Rosé All Day seminar.
Decked in head-to-toe shades of pink — “I’m dressed as my favorite wine” — Sbrocco and her panel of rosé afficianados led the standing-room only crowd on a tour de taste of pink wines ranging from sparkling to heady.
In fact, this seminar busted the mold with nine-glass tasting, including a trio of sparkling wines, a pair of Spainish rosés, and two California gems.
Among the tips imparted and mytyhs busted: Rosé is a year-round wine; think pink with your turkey this Thanksgiving. And, rosé is flexible; it can “swing both ways,” said Sbrocco to the laughs of the assembled crowd.
And, with one quote from the esteemed Lily Bollinger, of the House of Bollinger Champagne (the NV Bollinger Brut Rosé was a crowd favorite at the seminar), the morning was summed up”
“I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it — unless I’m thirsty.”
Words to drink by, indeed.
– Jeanne McGovern
‘You Say $20, I Say $200’
I feel the same way at Food & Wine as I do while riding a horse: I try to nod along and say “mmm … good” and hope they can’t smell my fear. If you’re wondering why I’m saying “mmm … good” to my horse, it’s probably either because they’re doing a good job trotting or because it’s the closest thing to an analogy I could come up with after checking off half of the “10,000 bottles!” in three hours. I don’t even have a horse.
Needless to say, when I’m shopping for a bottle of wine to accompany my miniature ravioli and cloistered hamburger with basil tomato sauce (Pro tip: Which amazingly can be found at most supermarkets for $1 under the “Chef Boyardee” label), I’m not looking to spend a whole lot of money.
Thankfully, I had Mark Oldman to advise me at the “You Say $20, I Say $200” seminar Friday, on which I also did not spend a whole lot of money, surprisingly.
“Don’t ask for a good value, ask for a good price,” Oldman said to the attendees. At least I think he said that; my handwriting was kind of sloppy. “You should feel no shame in requesting a good price.” I never feel shame, as a man who owns a plethora of Speedos, but some people furrowed their brows.
First I learned to place my palm over the glass while swirling it to get “double the aroma,” according to Oldman. With a sly grin he also told us to sniff our empty glasses upon arrival (Pro tip: You’re sniffing for detergent residue, I think to make sure your glass is clean) to warn the sommelier that you’re a wine pro. Before you try this, learn to pronounce “syrah” (Pro tip: sir-RAW.)
For another bottle to impress your sommelier with fetching, look for “Beaujolais,” which is French for “basic red.” They try to stump you, though, with labeling them by one of many villages, like Chiroubles, but the onus is on your to Google the rest of those.
“They can’t charge $80,” Oldman said of wines hard to pronounce (I’m being serious in this part; he did say this.) “Their constraint is our gain.”
And your restraint is your loss. Have fun out there. Happy Food & Wine.
– Benjamin Welch
Battle Royale: Sake vs. Wine
Not to spoil the ending, but sake wins!
In a Iron Chef-esque seminar, wine expert and entertainer extraordinaire Joshua Wesson sqaured off with “sake samurai” Monica Samuels.
The duel included four rounds of sake and wines paired with bites designed to bring out the unique qualities of each drink. For example, the Yuho Kimoto Junmai “Rhythm of the Centuries” sake and Barone Pizzini “Naturea Franciacorta Brut Zero 2011 were selected to pefectly offset the salty, oily nature of the Ramon Pena Sardine Pinxto served with it.
“Why is Champagne served with caviar? Why does beer go with potato chips?” questioned Wesson. “They cut through the strong flavors.”
From there, the battle turned the tables to pairings with Humboldt Fog Blue Cheese (deemed a tie), North Country Cookhouse Bacon-wrapped Medjool Date and, to wrap up, a Scharffen-Berger 70% Bittersweet Chocolate Sea Salt.
And while the attendees seemed to passionately hone in on the voting, Wesson questioned their legitimacy: “How many of you are just happy to be drinking, no mater what I say?”
Regardless, a few salient points about sake were shared: sake rice and cooking rice are wholly different grains; salty foods and fatty foods are a perfect match for sake; and sake, while mostly comprised of water, is a craft spirit like all others.
– Jeanne McGovern
Take on tequila
If you’re old enough to drink, then you are old enough to have had some experience, either bad or good, with tequila.
This experience led by Patron on Friday was distinctly good.
“What you are about to sip is as good as it gets,” said Chris Spake, director of brand education for Patron, in front of the crowd gathered for “The Art of Tasting, Shaking and stirring Barrel-aged Tequilas,” seminar at the St. Regis Aspen.
Attendees not only sipped, they gulped, shook and stirred their way through two tequila cocktails and three different tequila tasters that ranged from $15 to $500 at the 45 minute seminar.
“We are all going to be master mixologist by the end of this day,” said David Alan, a Patron mixologist on hand to direct the crowd on how to craft the perfect drink.
First up was the 2017 margarita of the year called the Coralina Margarita, which included a shot of red wine, because it is the Food & Wine Classic after all.
After that was a tequila old fashioned. While mixing up this one, Alan made a bold statement, “I believe the tequila old fashioned will be the next breakout drink for tequila,” But after one sip, I am inclined to believe him, and it is certainly a drink I can get on board with.
At the beginning of the seminar, Spake announced, “This is the best 45 minutes you’ve spent this week.” And when it was all over, I couldn’t agree more.
– Rose Laudicina
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