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At Festivals, Wine and Food Make Quite A Pair

Educate and satiate your palate, all in one fell swoop.

If you want to learn more about wine, attending a food and wine festival is one of the best crash courses you can take. Take it from a veteran festival girl.

I have sipped at the Paso Robles Wine Festival, swirled and slurped at the Astoria Oyster and Wine Festival, done high-altitude sniffing at the Aspen Food and Wine Classic, and attended countless other food and wine, art and wine, beer and wine, all-things-wine festivals that are too many to list. While others have baseball trophies or science fair ribbons, I have etched glasses and logo T-shirts. Somebody’s gotta do it.

Aside from a great time, a festival is also a low-key and super-easy way to learn about wine. Here are my top five reasons to give the festival a try:

  1. Quantity: Depending upon the event, there are dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of wineries from which to sample. Even if you made a trek to Napa, there is no way to cover this much ground in a day.
  2. Cost: Although the price to attend may seem high, when compared to how much you would need to spend to purchase the wines being sampled, it’s a steal.
  3. Local: Unless you are attending a major national event, wine festivals typically specialize in local wines and food, so it’s a great way to get to know what’s in your backyard.
  4. Celebrity: Often times the winemaker or owner will be pouring your wine. This affords the opportunity to ask questions and get personal.
  5. Education: Top-notch festivals also offer seminars or panels on a variety of topics. This is hands-on learning at its best.

Summer is my favorite time for festivals, but it certainly isn’t the only time of year they are offered. Fall can be lovely, as it is the season of harvesting grapes, and the holidays are especially popular for barrel sampling and more formal affairs.

If you are a die-hard Pinot fan you’ll want to check out the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon, a weekend extravaganza where you can taste Pinots from around the world and rub elbows with elite winemakers and collectors.

If you are into wine ratings and trophy bottles, Wine Spectator sponsors events in cities across the country. You’ll pay a small fortune, but you will have the opportunity to sample cult favorites and older vintages.

There’s no need to get on a plane or take out a second mortgage to indulge in festival fun. There are a host of events in the Pacific Northwest. Check out this website for a calendar: http://www.gotastewine.com/wa-wine-events.htm

Better yet, get your feet wet at Gig Harbor’s second Annual Food and Wine Festival coming up Saturday, Aug. 6. There will be a tasting tent with more than 35 participating wineries and restaurants, wine seminars, cooking demonstrations, and a celebrity chef appearance and cook-off. 

Who knows? Maybe you’ll even get an etched glass to impress friends and influence people at your next dinner party.

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