Food & Wine observations |

Food & Wine observations

“My tongue is drowning, but I still manage to find saliva.”That’s just one of the many wonderful quotes I heard during my weekend at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic.For years now, I’ve entered the high-end world of bacchanalia under the protective guise of an AV Guy, and each year I emerge with a notebook full of wry observations, quotes taken out of context that make for good double-entendre and a cabernet stain on the front of my shirt. Then I race home and give you the dirt, just in case you weren’t there. Or if you were there, but don’t remember it, maybe this will help explain the stain on YOUR shirt. And the tattoo.* Actual Overheard Quote No. 1: “In my world, the temperature at which wine should be served is more important than whether or not we should go to war with Iraq.”* Overheard Wine Comments That I Like To Pretend Could Also Be Used In Reference To Me, No. 1: “Very firm tannins,” “Notice the slight spritz?” “A little red currant, some vanilla, some leather.”* In the old days of Food & Wine, the spit buckets – for those who don’t like to swallow at 9 a.m. – were simply buckets with a little bag inside of them. This year, there were these little plastic funnels resting atop them, meaning you don’t have to witness what those before you have spat. I’m sure this made for a more pleasant overall experience, but it seems like this technology would have been much more effective had it been applied to the port-a-potties.* Actual Overheard Quote No. 2: “It smells like cat pee, but it tastes nothing like it.”* Overheard Wine Comments That I Like To Pretend Could NOT Be Used In Reference To Me, But I’m Probably Wrong: “I’m getting acidity here,” “A real intriguing gaminess to the aroma,” “Fruity, but reserved.”* Actual Overheard Quote No. 3: “Do you realize that you’re the only person in the room who doesn’t like this wine?”* My AV post was, and has been for years, the Cement Tent, a seriously unfinished room belonging to the St. Regis. This year, the Food & Wine folks hired a safety inspector to tour all the venues and, well, inspect. The Cement Tent is like a textbook of safety no-nos, with exposed beams, metal things jutting from the wall, and wooden patches in the floor through which you can see the room below. The safety inspector determined that my AV cables, which were taped down, were the REAL threat, and I had to tape them to the ceiling instead. I can’t deny that people who’ve been drinking all day could potentially trip over wires on the floor, taped down or otherwise, but it seemed like declaring that the lines on the Titanic’s shuffleboard deck were too high, and needed to be sanded down for everyone’s safety. Sorry, I know that’s a stretch, but when else would I ever get to use that joke?* Actual Overheard Quote No. 4: “Academically it would have been nice, but sensorially it would have backfired.”*Overheard Exchange Between Wine Novice and Wine Expert:Novice: Do you think there’s a sweetness in this wine?Expert: Well … there’s the IMPRESSION of sweetness.* And speaking of the Cement Tent: In years past, when people would first enter this venue, they’d look around at its warehouselike features and then declare, “Now I see why they call it the cement tent … ha ha.”This year, however, everyone merely said, “Hence the name … ha ha.”Do I have my finger on a pulse, or what?* Overheard Wine Comments That I Like To Pretend Could Also Be Used In Reference To Me, No. 2: “Slurp it around in your mouth and let it warm up a bit,” “Very large Yugoslavian barrels,” “Spent 24 months in French oak casks,” “38 dollars a bottle,” “Just too good to spit.”Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is, and his very own Web page is at

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