Wine and beer do battle at Taste of Vail
VAIL, Colorado -Say the words celebrity, death and cage match in the same sentence and a few ears are bound to perk up – and there’s one Taste of Vail seminar set for Saturday that’s been getting lots of attention. Its 10-word title – Wine vs. Beer with Cheese Thunderdome Celebrity Death Cage Match – is probably to thank for that. The big personality behind the seminar is Josh Wesson, an author and New York City sommelier who says he thrives on taking “preconceived notions and busting them up.”In this case, the preconceived notion is that wine and cheese go together, well, darn near perfectly. And that’s generally true, but as attendees of Saturday’s Taste of Vail seminar will likely find out, there is something that might pair better with that hunk o’ cheddar: a nice, cold beer. “The idea that a beer can be better with a cheese can be radical,” Wesson said during a phone interview earlier this week. The seminar set up like a boxing match, Wesson said, with five stations arranged with a cheese in the middle and, on each side, a wine and beer that will “do battle.” People vote on what pairing – the wine or the beer with the cheese – they like best. “There’s no right or wrong,” Wesson said. “It’s completely up to the audience to decide in any pairing who the victor will be. It’s tremendous fun. You taste five wildly different cheeses, five beers and wines, and then you decide for yourself. The real learning comes from why you picked a given wine or beer. Once you understand the nature of that liaison, you can begin to apply it to other wines or beers.”Wesson has led the seminar – each time with different cheeses, wines and beers – at other events, including the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami. It’s always a hit, he said. “It’s one of those things that’s so much fun and so educational, it doesn’t require any expertise, prior knowledge or special skills,” Wesson said. “It’s interactive in the best sense of the term.”Wesson attended Taste of Vail back in the 1990s for five or six years in a row, which is where he met longtime board member Mickey Werner.”Josh is a great speaker, does lots of NPR pieces and such,” Werner said. “He’s one of our first internationally-recognized sommeliers, really – he’s a celebrity and it’s nice to have him back. “The response to this seminar he puts on is incredible. People really go ‘wow.'”High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.