Currently snuggled up in bed unwinding from the excitement at Vancouver International Wine Festival just a few hours ago. It’s pretty hard to sleep when I’m too stoked to share (and pop open soon) the bottles I brought home with me to add to my collection! Italy is the featured Country this year, no wonder everyone was all smiles when they left. Italy produces some pretty tasty wines! Before I share my top picks, I’m going to share a few quick tips for those attending the Wine Festival tastings this weekend. Personally, my first ‘real’ wine tasting experience was intimidating, luckily my mom has taught me a lot throughout the years, and I’ve met some really cool winery owners, sommeliers, and wine consultants/experts throughout my experiences! If this is your first tasting, hopefully these tips will help you get started 🙂 Or if you’ve been to tastings before, hopefully you’ll find this post useful as well! One key learning I’ve realized is that there is always something new to learn with wine, every tasting. I’ll probably do a more thorough tasting and proper storage post in the future, but for now, let’s get started!
- Remember to spit – this is the one tip you will hear from the majority of people you talk to. I usually have 2-3 sips if I’m liking the wine, letting it cover my palate, then spitting it out (please remember to do that in the buckets nearby haha) and move on to the next one. There’s just too many amazing wines to try! Let’s just say during my first tasting experience, I loved the wine too much and didn’t spit, and had to go back to the hotel quite early…
- Arrive on time – if you’re limited to one or a couple tasting sessions, make sure to arrive early to factor in line-ups to get in, and waits at each booth!
- If you have a ‘wish list’ prior to going in, visit those wine booths first – your palate will probably need a break after tasting a good number of wines, in which you won’t be able to appreciate the flavours completely in the wines you try later in the tasting session. If you have a few wines you wanted to check out, do those first.
- Cleanse your palate – I spent about an hour at the tasting booths first, then took a 15-20min break to grab some cheese, meats, and bread to cleanse my palate. All freshened up, I went to try some more tasty wines!
- Do not wait till the end to make your purchases – Seasoned wine drinkers know that the more sought after bottles go quickly during these events. Each type of exclusive wine has a maximum availability per each tasting session. I wanted to complete my tastings before making my purchases. Luckily, my mom reminded me that most of my top picks would be gone by then, and she was right! Moms do know best. About an hour before the session ended, we went to the on-site store, where every wine featured during the festival is available for purchase by the bottle or case (for select wines). These are the wines that are usually only available at private stores or through special orders, and you most likely won’t find them at your local chain liquor store. I found the bottles I wanted, paid, and used the bottle check service. Basically you leave your purchases at an area, and you can go back to the tastings, picking up your purchases at the end of the evening. When we went to pick up our purchases, there were many disappointed attendees that weren’t able to pick up their selections because it was sold out already.
- Remember to have fun – at these tasting events, there is always that one person that will act like a ‘snob’. Don’t worry about asking questions, most of the exhibitors love to educate others on their wine, and wine in general! If you encounter a ‘snob’, just move on, and try another wine 🙂 Take notes as well of the wines that you like (or ask for a card with info from the exhibitors) for future reference!
My Top Picks:
Full disclosure, the mother and I love prosecco, hence, I’m biased in that sense haha! Seeing as the theme this year is Italian wines, I definitely recommend trying a few barbera, barolo, pinot grigio, and of course, prosecco 😉
From left to right:
- Fiorile Pinot Grigio, Cesari Italy 2013 – How can I not pick up a bottle of pinot grigio with Italy as the featured country? Very light and crisp, pairs well with fish or seafood dishes.
- Bottega Vinaia Gewürztraminer Trentino DOC 2014 – I have a soft spot for a nice Gewürz, and this was one of the best I’ve encountered! An intense aroma of tea rose and lychee, almost creamy mouth feel leaves a long finish of rose, dried apricot and pineapple. Pairs well with fish-based starters, white meats and spicy dishes. I personally love pairing a Gewürz with spicy dishes!
- Villa Sandi Prosecco II Fresco Brut DOC – The aroma is fruity and flowery with hints of ripe golden apple. The dry, fresh and flavorsome sensation on the palate is followed by a fruity and harmonious aftertaste.
- ***Ferrari Perlé 2007 – This is my absolute favourite pick this evening (same with the mother!). If you haven’t tried this sparkling wine before, DO IT. Elegant and harmonious, with the unmistakable fruity, aromatic sensations that are typical of Chardonnay. These are followed by a slightly almondy finish of great persistence. It was no surprise these bottles were sold out very quickly at the on-site store.
- Cleto Chiarli Rosé Brut 2013 – Delicate, well-structured, with intense fragrances of strawberries and raspberries and lively round taste. This was the last bottle when I tried to locate it, again, purchase them wines early!
- Roscato Rosé Dolce – Sweet like moscato, this was a nice blend of rosé meets moscato. I call this the ‘fun’ wine, perfect for summers (like any rosé), and even non-wine drinkers like it! It is very refreshing and sweet, with delicate red fruit flavors, perfect to pair with flavorful foods or desserts. I personally pair blends like this with grilled meats or during barbeques.
Lastly, the Fantini Cococciola Cuvée Brut was amazing as well. Unfortunately they were sold out when I was at the on-site store. A very refreshing blend of citrus and floral aromas, very fresh and light. Going to have fun locating this to add to my collection!
Here are a few more photos from the event! Remember to have fun, try something new, and get home safe!