Pulling the cork on wine
What does Vail taste like? Some would say an exquisite white, others, a luscious red. Whatever the palate, everyone can find something to appreciate at the fine wine events offered at the 14th annual Taste of Vail from April 7-10.These are the best educational tastings you can do, said Cary Hogan, co-owner of Avon Liquors, who has been in charge of the wine seminars for the past 10 years. If youve been drinking wine your whole life or just starting out, theres always something you can learn.This years four-day extravaganza, which benefits various Vail Valley charities, features three educational wine seminars showcasing wines from over 55 wineries from around the globe.Winery owners and winemakers fly in from as far away as New Zealand, France and Chile as well as Napa Valley, Sonoma and Washington state to personally pour their award-winning wine at the Taste of Vail, said Susan Fritz, president of the Taste of Vail.Not only does Vail provide the perfect backdrop for such an event, but the culture to match.Its based on wine and food, and the lifestyle that we live in Vail, said Paul Ferzacca, chef at La Tour and a member of the Taste of Vail board. Its about showcasing the great restaurants in town, and along with the great restaurants are the great wine lists. The idea is to promote this great food culture and wine culture in Vail that I dont think a lot if people recognize.A tasting vocabulary The first seminar, Mondavi Component Tasting Seminar, on April 8 at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa, takes a closer look at the four basic components of wine: tannin, oak, acid and sugar. Robert Mondavi of Mondavi wineries will demonstrate how, in isolating these tastes, a person can understand their personal threshold for each or the level that best suits each individuals palate.Different parts of the tongue identify the different components: sweetness is identified by the end, acidity by the sides and bitterness by the back.Tannin is the essential element for aging.Tannin is the skin of the grape. Some have too much, and it makes your mouth pucker and lets you know how much you like, Hogan said.The oak component is the taste imparted to a wine by the oak barrels or casks in which it was aged. The terms toasty, vanilla and smoky all indicate qualities of oak.When you go to taste the oak, you can pick up the characteristics. It gives your nose a vocabulary for oak, Hogan said. Acidity gives wine its body and taste.Higher acids in wine are better food wines usually, Hogan said. Once we show you how those acids are isolated you have a better taste for it. The sugar element refers to the sugar of the grape, which is different than table sugar. Most wine tasters begin to perceive sugar at levels of 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent. There are various levels of sugar. You can pick up what your threshold for sweet wines, Hogan said.This seminar is included in the full event package or $15 for individuals.Synergy between wine and food The second seminar offered, Umami Seminar Part III, on April 10 at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort and Spa, focuses on matching food with wine. Jerry Comfort of Beringer Wine Estate will lead guests in a tasting of five wines with a variety of seafood. Using examples of umami, which is the notion of a fifth taste described as the savory/protein taste, Comfort will explore and explain what wines pair best with which seafoods and why.Youve got sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami, Hogan said. If everyone has a different dish that traditionally call for different wines, well, those rules can go out the door. If you have your fish grilled, then the charcoal flavor can go with a red wine. Fish and pork, you can do noir. Steak with lemon goes with the white.Comfort will also discuss topics like what wines taste best with the sweetness of crab, pairing wines with delicate white fish and why is salmon recommended with pinot noir.Wine and food there is synergy between them. They complement each other if paired properly, Ferzacca said. Impress for less The third seminar, The Inside Track on California Cabernet also on April 10 at the Vail Marriott, examines whether price and growing region make a difference when selecting elegant wines.Gloria Moroti, director of Wine Spectators on-line school, winespectatorschool.com, will explore top growing regions in the in-depth tasting seminar. Right now, because of the market, its very price driven. People are looking for good values. Having said that, peoples palates are really open, Hogan said. Theres no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on wine, you dont need to do that to get good wine. Ive seen people get more venturesome. Spain, Italy, Africa, New Zealand and Argentine wines are a really good deal. Ninety percent of wine is drunk within 24 hours of purchase. For $8 to $15 you can find a ton of stuff to drink that night and it tastes beautiful, Hogan said.
This seminar is included in the full event package or $35 for individuals.The full event package costs $350, which includes various seminars and tastings. For more information, call 926-5665 or visit http://www.tasteofvail.com