Glass in hand, friends at my side…ah, Winefest. Last Friday I was lucky enough to attend the trade and industry tasting in Calgary, and it’s one I won’t miss going forward.
I have enjoyed wine for a long time, but it’s been at least ten years since I have attended any kind of a large tasting event or wine festival. Back in the day, I attended the Vancouver Wine Festival a few times (even pouring at a table for one of the wineries my company represented), and other events, but years have passed. I forgot how great it is to talk to people about the wine they are making or selling, and how much fun it is to share the experience with friends. I had lost the thrill of discovery that comes from stumbling over a gem that you won’t soon forget.
I found it all again.
I talked and tasted, chatted and sipped. I remembered to only taste what I really wanted to explore, for fear of running out of time or palate. I made discoveries in wine and people who made me smile. I found gems, and missed entire varietals (Malbec, I’m sorry, it’s me, not you.)
It made me remember how social wine really is, and how much it changes the experience to have someone insist you come try a wine, or get swept up in your excitement and follow you to a tasting booth. I was lucky enough to attend Winefest with a group of favourite friends who make me laugh, and laugh we did. We raved and raised eyebrows, we giggled and laughed, we dragged each other to tables to share treasures.
We enjoyed cheeses from Springbank Cheese Co. (try the Coeur de Lion Brie, I beg you) and food and olive oil pairing from Cobs and Blue Door Oil & Vinegar. There was a spread of food to enjoy between the wine tasting tables, but I must admit I stuck to bread and cheese until after the tasting.
And as always, it was over too soon. I didn’t try enough reds, missed tables I should have visited, and instantly regretted how long I had spent tasting whites (I’m a red wine lover at heart.) Interestingly, for all my love of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec, I walked out of Winefest with four bottles – three Petite Sirah and one Sauvignon Blanc. Amusingly, I discovered Petite Sirah at a wine festival long ago and dragged home two bottles of it that year as well. It seems Petite Sirah and I like to meet up at these events. I don’t buy them often enough but have been jolted back into the memory of why I love them. Deep, dark, gorgeous wines.
Some friends and I were craving a steak after all our red wine tasting, and so plans for dinner were made. Soon we were cozy in the lounge of a popular local steakhouse, ordering steaks and dessert and coffee and enjoying ourselves immensely. A great way to end a fantastic day.
What did I learn? That I’ve spent too long away from loving wine – not just occasionally having a glass, but tasting, exploring, discovering and discussing it. It’s a happy lesson to learn.