Pig Out: Food & Wine Weekend serves up some serious swine

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times

Some Food & Wine weekends are about the wine. Others are about the food. The 2016 edition of the Classic seems to be about pigging out — both literally and figuratively.

It began Thursday night when more than 4,000 pounds of beef, pork, lamb, goat, lobster, squab, rabbit, duck, fish, chicken and oysters — along with free-flowing wine, beer, spirits and cider — took over the sprawling lawn at Snowmass Base Village. Heritage Fire was, to say the least, a meat-lover’s paradise.

“Anyone got the meat sweats yet?” yelled event founder Brady Lowe over the loud speaker, as the masses devoured plates of these succulent bites — all cooked over open fires set across the mountainside.

The meatfest continued Friday with swine taking center stage.

At the Food & Wine Classic seminar “Swine & Wine: Wines with BBQ,” the mood was set with country tunes blaring (Roger Miller’s “Chug-a-Lug” set a perfect tone for the pork-and-wine pairing) and light-hearted jabs at the panel and crowd.

“Remember, without ‘swine,’ there’d be no ‘wine,’” joked master sommelier Sabato Sagaria, who shared the stage with fellow master sommelier John Ragan, both donning cowboy hats for the Southern-inspired seminar, and Blue Smoke executive chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois.

And there was plenty of swine and wine to be had (note: if you missed it, you get another chance to pig out today at 2 p.m.). Among the favorite pairings: pork jerky served with a Wenzlou Vineyard Pinot Noir; “Cracklin” and Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne; and a Southern Belle Deviled Ham Sandwich accompanied by an A.J. Kabinett Reisling.

In fact the Reisling, which Sagaria referred to as a “patio pounder,” stood up well to the entire array of swine served.

But for those whose palates leaned toward the reds with their barbecue, Ragan offered this tip: “Red wine on a hot summer day, served a little chilled, is that much better.”

Ready to test out these words of wisdom? Look no further than tonight’s Grand Cochon. Held in the Viceroy Snowmass ballroom, one chef will be crowned this year’s king or queen of porc. The honor is bestowed upon the winning chef following a 10-city tour de porc — and after attendees get the chance to sample pig served every way imaginable in what might be the most swine-centric event of them all.

Still, there is more to Food & Wine Classic weekend than pigging out. Perhaps the most poignant piece of advice gleaned in this weekend’s pork party: “Champagne goes well with pork, yes, but Champagne goes well with life.”