Princess: On Food & Wine weekend, spit — don’t swallow |

Princess: On Food & Wine weekend, spit — don’t swallow

Ali Margo
The Aspen Princess

Happy Food & Wine weekend, kitty cats!

I hope that by now you have laid out all your Grand Tasting outfits, all your pretty sundresses and espadrille wedges, that you’ve had your Botox and your blowouts and bought the latest Ray Ban aviator sunglasses (for the trend that will never, ever go away — I’m pretty sure the latest mutation is the gold rims and colored lenses).

Hopefully you’ve squeezed in a few extra hot yoga classes and have been starving yourself so you can pack a week’s worth of calories (make that two weeks) into three sun-filled, wine-soaked, glorious days. Be sure to charge your iPhones so you don’t miss out on those prime selfie ops, arm in arm with a gaggle of friends, those unmistakable white tents and the golf-course-green slopes of Aspen Mountain in the background, the coveted lanyards draped around your necks. When you post it on Gloatbook, don’t forget to come up with some cheeky caption like, “Wish I could remember how much fun I had!” and hope it doesn’t come back to haunt you later when and if you get in trouble for doing something stupid when you were blacked out.

My very first Food & Wine, I had a volunteer gig in the courtyard just outside the Grand Tasting tent, handing out bottled water that had been imported from some iceberg or mountain spring in Europe, my hands numb from bobbing elbow-deep in giant buckets of ice. My job was to save the masses of drunken, sunburned festivalgoers who had forgotten the concept of “hydrate or die.” Drinking at altitude can turn even the most sophisticated wine connoisseur from armchair sommelier to cheap date. Seeing those tomato-faced women stagger toward me, tripping over their stilettos as they sank into the grass, it was a crash course in what not to do.

Before you decide to spit or swallow, the first thing you need to know is this: Even with a saline I.V. and a legal dose of Vitamin I (four of those little orange pills we like to call Advil), even the most seasoned Aspenite can’t do it all — at least not in three days. Here are a few ways to keep your head above wine, er, water:

Food & Wine is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re talking about an event venue that’s the size of a football field (actually it’s a rugby field, but that eye candy doesn’t come to town until Ruggerfest in mid-September) and an event that’ll have you chugging chalky fistfuls of Tums faster than at your best friend’s wedding. Two words: Pace yourself.

When it comes to navigating those two saturated hours under the Grand Tasting tent, your best strategy is to focus. Maybe it’s chardonnay or rose or a banner vintage year or even going booze-free and only tasting the food, but choose one flavor, and stick with it. Better yet, leave the masses behind, give those sore heel-clad feet a rest, and get schooled at one of the dozens of seminars that are offered throughout the weekend. There’s nothing like a little context to give all the unhinged decadence some real flavor and to pick up some new, cool terminology to drop at the tasting tent.

After three full days of wining and dining, it’s bad enough trying to walk a straight line, never mind that fine line between beautiful shoes and painfully beautiful shoes. Yes, Aspen is the kind of place you can wear those brand-new, rose-pink, satin stiletto sandals right out the Dior — I mean door. But unless you want to aerate the grass, break your leg or trip over a Top Chef faster that you can say “cobblestone streets,” leave your stilettos in L.A. and thank God because wedges and platforms are in. Unless you are going to a costume party, never, ever wear more than one Western accessory at a time, and while I understand you need to protect yourself from the powerful high-country sun, leave your giant, wide-brimmed hats at home — this ain’t the Kentucky Derby. An oversized pair of sunglasses and some strong SPF will do just fine.

Last but not least, don’t even think about shopping until you sober up. We have more designer boutiques per capita than Madison Avenue, and those Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior and Gucci window displays will have you drooling even more than all that food and wine did. It’s kind of like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry — only a lot more expensive. And while you might not remember racking up such a huge credit-card bill, your bank account certainly will.

If you’re anything like I am and can’t tell tannin from a tanning bed, the best way to celebrate Food & Wine is like any good Aspen Princess would — with a nice, cold beer.

The Princess is just bitter that Ray Ban aviators are too big for her petite face. Email your love to