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Mar 06

23rd Annual Cincinnati Wine Festival Preview

by Kevin

The Cincinnati International Wine Festival is upon us for the 23rd year! This Friday and Saturday, the grand tasting will be held at the convention center in downtown Cincinnati.

I will be posting as early as I can on Friday afternoon the highlights from the afternoon tasting, especially the surprises that I find. Every year my goal is to find something unexpected, unusual, or interesting. With 133 booths and a few hundred wines, I have never failed in this goal.

Tickets are still available for both Friday and Saturday nights and the list of wines seems both extensive and exciting. While it always nice to see a few favorite importers like Terry Theise(booth 11), Vintner Select(booth 14), Cutting Edge Selections(booth 32 thru 34) and many wineries from years past, for different reasons: Charles Smith/K Vinters (booth 4) from my wine bloggers conference in Walla Walla), Cline Cellars(booth 51) my first wine club, Henke Winery (booth 125) for teaching me that Norton can have a level of depth and quality, Veleta Wines (booth 56) for helping me learn that the story behind the wine helps to explain the taste, JAQK Cellars (booth 98) for beign able to highlight how different approaches to the a grape can have a very different taste in the bottle, and there is also a place for Bully Hill (booth 39) which was my first every winery experience in the Finger Lakes. I think that is some of the power of the taste of wine is that is can transport us back to a different time and place where we first got caught up in trying to learn as much as we could.

I’m also excited to try a few new things this year, a 2011 Chilean Pedro Ximenez (booth 2), Sivas Sonoma (booth 21) a new winery for me, the Italian selections from Dalla Terra (booth 48), hoping there might be a bottle of Pinot Meunier somewhere at a booth.

Beyond just my excitement, we always like to publish a few ways to get the most out of the overall experience. Here is our annual post of tips and tricks compiled from our and other blogger’s experiences on how to best survive this festival:

Please realize that these tips are geared for people who are heading to the Festival to try new wines, learn new things, and not get generally hammered. If insanely drunk is your goal, well … get a cab and/or a hotel.
So in no particular order, here are our tips for surviving a festival with hundreds of wines and even more people:

  • Decide when you want to go. The Friday Grand Tasting has always seemed more manageable to me, with slightly less people. The Saturday Grand Tasting is generally the biggest event, with what seems like an unending number of people. My favorite session is Saturday afternoon, as fewer people attend and I can get more face-time with the winemakers.
  • Eat a big meal before hand. You’ll stay sober longer. You may want to follow your festival experience with a large meal afterwards. Either way, it’s a busy weekend downtown. Whenever you decide to eat, make reservations.
  • Consider a designated driver, cab service, or even a hotel room. Last year we decided to succumb to an afternoon and evening of alcohol and we got a hotel room. The Wine Fest web site offers several hotel packages downtown, and we often find great last minute deals at The Cincinnatian. In past years, we’ve had good luck booking through Hotwire. Remember, if you drink, please don’t drive. And if you plan to drive, please don’t drink.
  • Make a game plan. First, download the Tasting Guide ahead of time. In the guide, you can find the list of attending wineries, the corresponding floor plan, and the list of wines in the Special Tasting Room. Plan ahead. See what looks interesting. Accept that you can’t possibly try everything. You may want to decide to divide and conquer within your group of friends. I gave you my plan above,remember it’s only a plan. I am sure that I will deviate through the tasting as I find other things to try. I always like making a friend to find out what they have tried that I need to try. It’s an easy question and everyone has a few thoughts.
  • Dress comfortably. Seriously, ladies, there is no need for high heels. You can still look cute and trendy and leave the stilettos at home. You will be walking a lot, standing even more, and jostling in and out of a lot of people. Expect it to be warm in the tasting hall. Lots of people and red wine can raise the temperature in a room.
  • Since we’re talking about clothes, wear dark colors. I know it’s almost Spring, but don’t pull out your sundresses and pastels. Even if you manage to avoid spilling red wine on yourself, someone else might very well careen into you. Lots of people + lots of alcohol = lots of wine accidents. Dark colors are your best bet. On that note, carry a small bottle of Wine Away or a Tide Stain Stick. Even if you don’t need it, someone else might.
  • Get there early. People start filtering in late and things get really crowded really fast. Enjoy being early.
  • Start at the end. Most people will start at the beginning. Starting at the end (or back) will allow you to fight a smaller crowd – at least until you make it to the middle.
  • Manage your route so that you visit the sparkling wine and champagne in between big wines. Sparklers are excellent palate cleansers and you’ll last longer if you try those in between the big reds.
    Save those dessert wines for last. One year I succumbed to temptation and had a chocolate port early on. As tasty as it was, my next ten wines still tasted like chocolate.
  • Hold your glass up and don’t tilt it sideways. Think about it – the wine will spill out. Holding it up higher makes it easier for the pourer to reach over all the bottles. Guys were better at this than gals last year, most likely because guys are just taller in general. Reach out with those glasses ladies!
  • The pourers are not bartenders. Seriously, don’t bang on a bottle with your glass expecting service. (And no, I’m not kidding.) And while we’re on the topic, say please and thank you. Just because you’re thirsty for wine, doesn’t mean that all good manners get thrown out the window. Some of the pourers are just volunteers and aren’t being paid to be there and everyone has been working hard for at least two days; in the case of winemakers, they’ve been going non-stop for nearly a week.
  • Move out of the way. I can’t stress this enough for the evening sessions. You don’t have to leave, but get your wine and move to the side. Don’t step back two steps, you’re still blocking the three people behind you and you’ll probably spill wine in the process.
  • Try new things. Just because you haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they’re bad. Truly, some of the booths have the name of the distributor, but they might be featuring three or four different wineries. This is a perfect opportunity to branch out and explore a little. Who knows what you’ll find? There might be something you really like, even if it’s not Merlot and Chardonnay. The two questions I heard while pouring last year were “Do you have any Merlot? Do you have any Chardonnay?” The answer is not always yes, and there are some really exciting grapes out there that are not merlot or chard. If you see an Alicante Bouché for example, try it – you might be surprised. Chances are, the person behind the table can tell you a little bit about the grape as well, and if you don’t like it, then dump it.
    Spit or dump. A winemaker commented to me a few years ago that Cincinnati is strange because hardly anyone spits. Some thoughts on spitting:

    • Carry your own spit cup. Dixie cups work, as well as those Solo plastic cups. When a table is crowded, it’s hard to get to the bucket, nor do you want to be in someone else’s spit stream. Also, it’s easier to be discreet when you are quietly spitting into your own cup.
    • Dump instead of spit. I don’t spit at the Wine Festival. When I’m judging a wine competition, it doesn’t bother me to spit into a personal cup. But in our weird lack-of-spitting city, I get really self-conscious. So I take a small sip or two, try to really glean something out of it, and dump the rest of the wine into the bucket. It’s expected. You’re not wasting wine or hurting anyone’s feelings.
    • Take breaks every 30 minutes or so to have some snacks and water, as well as to regroup.
    • Hydrate, and wine doesn’t count. Bring water if they aren’t handing it out. But you’ll definitely want some handy.
  • Rinse strategically. You see, rinsing your glass is necessary occasionally. But when you’re switching between white and red, ask for a wine rinse. No one will complain. If you’re switching between the reds at the same table, you don’t need to rinse your glass between every one. Not only do you waste water, but no one ever gets all the water out of their glass. You know what that leads to? Watery wine, and you certainly don’t want that.
  • Don’t try to take detailed tasting notes. Sometimes I just rate things on my happy face scale; occasionally I’ll write a sentence. There will be no time for detailed information, nor will you really have free hands or space for writing.
  • And finally, don’t expect your friendly wine blogger to get you free tickets. We pay to get in to the evening events. It’s a charity function. In fact, I believe 50% of your ticket is a tax-deduction as a charitable donation. So don’t try to get in free and skimp on those charities, okay? Instead, just go and have a fantastic time!
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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Nov 03

Taste of the World – November 10th 2012


It’s that time of year again when the leaves fall off the trees, the weather hits a surprising cold snap, plans are made for the upcoming holiday season, and the LLS kicks off the season with their Taste of the World event. This has been one of the events that I have looked forward to and attended over the past few years.

It is now up to the 9th annual version located at the Newport Aquarium. This year they have continued the Top Shelf room for anyone who might be interested in a few higher end offerings. The participating restaurants run from BBQ to seafood, with a list being found on the LLS site.

2012 Party town Spirits Table
Last year, I helped to pour both at the Party Source spirits table, featuring a selection of mescals, private barrel bourbons, and a rum. The Top Shelf area had a scotch selection that was similarly fantastic. I’m not sure exactly what the non-wine offerings will be this year, but the Praty Source team does a great job of making sure there options for everyone.

Both the food and spirits are in addition to the wine and beer options that are available. The exact list is a closely kept secret, but I have never been disappointed with the selections.

This is the first year that I am a committee member for this event and I encourage everyone who attends to let me know about your experience.

Date: November 10th, 2012
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Newport Aquarium
General Admission Tickets are $100
Top Shelf Tickets are $150
All proceeds go to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 513.698.2457.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Oct 19

Stop by Northern Kentucky’s Only Wine Festival Saturday

By: Cresta

Celebrate the wines of Kentucky this Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Northern Kentucky Wine Festival. With 19 participating wineries, you’re sure to fall in love with a wine or two. They will have two city blocks filled with food and craft vendors, music and lots of wine.

Participating wineries include:

Atwood Hill

Baker-Bird

Black Barn

Cedar Creek

Chrisman Mill

Elk Creek

Equus Run

Generation Hill

Horseshoe Bend

Lovers Leap

Old 502 Winery

Purple Toad

Redman’s Farm

Rose Hill Farm

Serendipity Winery

Seven Wells

Stonebrook

Verona Winery

WhiteMoon Winery

The Northern Kentucky Wine Festival takes place from 3 until 10 p.m. this Saturday in Covington’s Mainstrasse Village. Tickets are $10 and include a souvenir wine glass and four sample tickets. Additional sample tickets may be purchased on-site.

For more information, visit http://www.nkvgga.org or check out the Northern Kentucky Wine Festival’s Facebook page. Ages 21 and older please.

If you go, please share which wines you enjoyed the most by commenting on this post. Cheers!

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Cresta at 2:06 pm in Special Events, Wine Events, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments ()
Apr 27

Join Me For Tap ‘N’ Run 4K

By: Cresta

This is probably a little unorthodox, but I’m going to write about it anyway. It DOES have something to do with beer at least.

It may seem crazy to combine heart-pumping physical activity with beer drinking – although I know some people that would consider beer drinking a sport. Even the organizers call this event “a ridiculous running race.” I’ve always thought an ice cold beer tastes great after a good run, so I’m in.

Tap ‘N’ Run is a 4K (or 2.5 mile) running race that includes four beer chug stations along the race course – plus a full beer at the finish line, along with crazy costumes, contests and awards, and an after-party with live music on the barge at Hooters and Beer Seller down along the river.

The race is professionally timed and all participants will receive a medal – that doubles as a bottle opener of course, the equivalent of more than two beers and a Tap ‘N’ Run t-shirt. They also will offer non-alcoholic beverages and even a taxi partner to help get everyone home safely.

They will be checking IDs, so you must be 21 years of age on race day to participate and you MUST present a valid ID at check-in.

I am joining a few friends to create a team. I’ve never participated in this but it sounds like a blast. Cost is $38 per person if you register before Saturday, April 28. The price goes up from there. Visit http://www.tapnrun.com for more info and to register. Hope to see you there!

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Cresta at 7:56 am in Beer, Entertainment, Special Events | Permalink | Comments ()
Apr 06

Super Elegant … and Expensive … Sangria

by Michelle

Out here in Napa Valley, there’s a big weekend at the end of April called the Vineyard to Vintner (V2V) Open House Weekend featuring wines from the upper echelon Stag’s Leap District. V2V is out of my limited price range at the moment, but there is something in the press release that caught my eye.

The Stag’s Leap District Vintners are coming together to make a sangria.

Yeah, you heard that right. I often recommend a more low-end wine for sangria, because you’re just going to destroy it with brandy and fruit. But this time, 18 of the District’s high-end cabernet sauvignons will combine with local fruits and brandy to create … fruit punch. Really really extravagant fruit punch.

Here’s what the folks in the Stag’s Leap District have to say about their classier-than-average sangria:

“Everyone knows that we make some pretty remarkable wines here in the Stags Leap District, some of the best in the world,” said newly elected SLDW President, Elizabeth Vianna of Chimney Rock Winery. “What people don’t know is how much fun we have doing it.  Our V2V weekend and our ‘Swanky Sangria’ are our way of showing the world the extraordinary sum of our parts as the fortunate beneficiaries of this District’s amazing terroir and eclectic personalities.”

Once again, the sangria is out of my price point, but I would dearly love to try some. Considering the cost of many of the bottles involved, the estimated value of the blend is $20/oz or a staggering $100 a glass.  That better be some amazing sangria … and everyone better sip!

Out of your price point too? We’ve got some tasty sangria recipes right here on Wine-Girl.net that I promise won’t cost you $100/glass.

Greatest Hits: Make Your Own Sangria (Red, White, and Blush recipes)

Cheers!

 

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