Getting personal with the wine at Taste of Vail
Special Sections Editor
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –Sometimes you’ve got to pick your battles – at each Taste of Vail tasting event, there are roughly 50 wineries pouring one, two, sometimes three vintages apiece. And only hardcore professionals can handle that kind of tantilizing, swig-inducing variety without making babbling buffoons of themselves – unless they have a guide. Enter a personal sommelier.
New this year, Taste of Vail is offering Sommelier Tours of events. A posse of seven somms manned a table at the entrance of the Mountaintop Picnic, ready to escort inquisitive tasters through the vagaries of vino. And they’ll do the same at the Grand Tasting this evening. Bill Minett of Grouse Mountain Grill, Paul Di Mario of La Tour, Jamie Garrett of Sonnenalp Resort, Derek George of Sapphire Restaurant and Oyster Bar, Wade Vizena of Sweet Basil, Rose Manso of Timberhearth Grill and Jarrett Osborn of Riverwalk Wine and Spirits are all donating their time to tailor the tasting experience to attendees’ personal tastes.
Folks can simply walk in and announce what they usually like – perhaps California Cabernets or sparkling anything – and off they go. The guides aren’t just people who’ve passed the sommelier tests – they’re working wine professionals and tend to know the winemakers pouring at the event either personally or by reputation.
“It can be a little daunting for someone to show up and start talking to winemakers,” Di Mario said. “But we can make it easier.”
Because Taste of Vail is all about tasting, it can be an opportunity to go beyond the comfort zone. Minett says a sommelier’s job is to help people develop their palates.
And they’re predisposed to want to talk about the wines with people who are interested in them.
At the picnic, our group (led by sommelier Di Mario) was inclined to sip bubbles and Rose, a nod to the weather. We started with Henriot Champagne and followed that by Schramsberg sparkling Rose. Schramsberg’s winemaker, Keith Hock, makes sparkling wine in California, but it has some decidedly Old World characteristics.
From there the group hit both K. Furtado’s and Van Duzer’s Rose.
The Grand Tasting begins at 7 p.m. today, but to folks interested in taking a Sommelier Tour, it’s open at 6:30 p.m. for $25. After 7, it’s free. Tours will last around 20 to 30 minutes.