vancouver international wine festival

HOW TO WIN AT A WINE FESTIVAL

Yes, I did say to wear comfortable shoes, but... no birkies please 

Yes, I did say to wear comfortable shoes, but... no birkies please 

Are you heading to a big wine tasting event?

Fight the overwhelm, check out my top 9 wine tasting tips for having an awesome time at a wine festival:

~Don’t drink everything in sight (despite the temptation), be discerning, try to read up a little on the wineries you want to check out ahead of time. I take a look at the wineries participating in the event, and make a list of 3-5 must try wines that I’m excited to sample. I head to those tables first, which helps me get oriented in the room and avoid being overwhelmed by options.

~Circle the floor once before you start tasting to get the lay of the land, plan your attack, make note of your favourite wineries.

~It’s more than OK to spit out the wine. It can be a long night, and there are many wines to try. Have a sip if it’s really delicious, but don’t be embarrassed to use ‘ye olde spit bucket’ or tip out your glass into it after you’ve had one sip – you don’t have to finish everything they pour for you. I spit out 99% of the wine – unless it’s mind blowing or 50 year old port 

~Eat a solid meal before the party. Pasta, bread, anything that will fill out the corners of your stomach. Food served at tasting events is usually of the bite-sized canape persuasion, there are lineups, and they are snacks not a substitute for a real lunch/dinner.

~Dress for success. Of course, you can wear jeans and a t-shirt, but this is a fun event to dress up a little. A cute dress, or nice blazer will really help you stand out as stylish. Leave the 3″ heels at home though, your feet will thank me. I opt for cute but comfy wedges or ballet flats.

~Be polite and friendly to the people pouring your wine, it can be a long event for them, especially as the crowd gets buzzing. Don’t forget to compliment the wines you love, you may even be talking to the person who made them!

~Once your wine glass is filled, step aside so others can reach the table. If it's busy, don't monopolize the table's host. If it's reasonably quiet, feel free to ask your questions about the wine (or grab a card from the table to look up later).

~Have a plan to get home safe. No drinkin’ and drivin’ of course. Plan your transit route, grab a cab/uber, or take advantage of the festival's hotel packages.

~If the table you want to visit is too crowded, head to the quiet booth you’ve never heard of before. I’ve tasted delicious wines and met interesting people just by being open minded about trying something totally new.

~Lastly, have fun and keep an open mind. Try a new grape, a new winery, a new region that you’ve never had before. I also challenge you to try a grape you’ve had before and not enjoyed. If you’ve completely written off Chardonnay, you could be missing out just because you had that one off-putting bottle, when another style may blow your mind!

TOP 3 TO TRY AT VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL WINE FEST #VIFW 2015

australia.jpeg

Hey wine fox! The public tasting nights are on now at Vancouver Wine Fest 2015.

The theme is Australia Shiraz/Syrah, and there are an incredible 170 wineries represented at the event. A little overwhelming right?

Well, you can always do what I do, and have a few “must try” wines to seek out before trying all those other incredible looking wines you’ve never heard of!

Here are my three picks for you to check out:

1) Start out your night with a sparkling from the land of the Tasmanian Devil! Tasmanian sparkling wine is so hot right now, which is a little ironic, as it hails from one of the coolest regions in Australia. The Jansz Premium Cuvee is made in the Methode Tasmanoise (a cute riff on Champenoise) on the North-Eastern corner of the island in red basalt soil. Expect creamy bubbles with a fruity hit of strawberry, honeysuckle and citrus… Yum!

2) Then, if you’re feeling up for a powerhouse red, get to the Wolf Blass table early to beat the crowds. Start with some of their delish Chard, before moving to the reds. Their Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz has ranked high in a blind test with some of the most expensive Bordeaux Cabs in the world. This is a great chance to taste a $100+ cult Cab and decide whether you think it’s worth all the fuss (I do!).

3) Since we’re ostensibly at VanWineFest to celebrate all things Shiraz (Australia is the focus, but wineries from all over the world are here), make sure to stop by the Yalumba table to try their Octavius Shiraz. Named for the 100L oak barrels (called ‘octaves’) made onsite by their own coopers, the grapes come from some very old vines in the hot Barossa Valley. Yalumba is the oldest family owned Aussie winery, and they make some truly delicious bottles. Also be sure to try their wild fermented Y Series Viognier, a silky little number with full body and lots of stone fruit.

PS: there are some legit old world fortified wine houses at the tasting. Before you leave, make sure to visit the Taylor-Fladgate, Fonseca, Croft & Gonzalez Byass tables for a little night cap!

Have fun! If you have a hot tip about a wine I’ve got to try at VIWF 2015, let me know below in the comments.