With Spring in full swing, it must be VeritageMiami time!
In a return to our traditional layout of events, in 2023, we are celebrating the world’s reopening after the pandemic with an “old school” wine and food event harkening back to VeritageMiami’s beginnings (for more on those beginnings; see my multi-part history of our festival benefitting United Way Miami). What that means is, first, we are bringing back the walk-around wine tasting that was an important part of the original event, and second, having all three events in the same week!
After a hurricane postponement in 2016, we removed the wine tasting at Merrick Park to concentrate on our Craft Beer event. Now, after a ten-year run, it’s time we retired the Craft Beer event (at least for now) and go back to our winey roots with a great walk-around tasting. This year, we’ll set up shop at The Hangar at Regatta Bay in Coconut Grove. We’ve partnered with Republic National Distributing Corporation (RNDC) to feature wineries from their extensive portfolio. We’ll have a group of five sparkling wine producers arranged together so you get to explore bubbles first, then head on to another area with tables belonging to 25 wine producers, each bringing several wines.
Here’s some advice for having a great experience at our wine tasting:
- Pace yourself – instead of trying to taste everything, find a couple of tables with wines you already know, and ask them to try other wines from the same brand you haven’t tried yet. If you like one of their wines already, I’ll bet you will also find others there to enjoy.
- Experiment with some new styles of wine. If you are a red wine lover, ask to try a couple of interesting whites. How will you know what’s interesting? Ask the pourers – they are there because they are experts with the wines in their portfolio, and they can guide you to some unfamiliar wines you might love – there will be some fabulous white wines there that may be new to you.
- By the same token, if you only drink white wine because you find reds to be strong or bitter (that’s the influence of tanning), ask the pourers for some help locating fruitier red wines that don’t have a lot of tannin. You might be surprised by what you find!
- Remember, we’ll have an entire section devoted to sparkling wines. Champagne is the most famous sparkling wine, of course, but there will be interesting Prosecco from Italy and Cava from Spain. There are several ways to get the bubbles into the wine – ask the pourers how their wines are made, and you’ll hear some fascinating stories.
- And finally, be sure to hydrate – drink plenty of water to avoid a hangover the following day! We will have a great selection of water on hand from San Pelligrino (both “plain” and their terrific flavored waters called Essenza) and Acqua Panna, my favorite still water from deep under the hillsides of Tuscany. Here’s a tip for one of my favorite pairings – grab an Acqua Panna and taste it alongside the terrific white wine called “Masianco” produced by the family-owned winery called Masi. This crisp white wine is a blend of Pinot Grigio, which you probably have tasted before, and a white grape called Verduzzo that may very well be new to you. I think you’ll find the synergy of the water plus the wine is terrific – taste the wine, then taste the water and see how the flavors of the wine blossom on your tongue. It’s an adventure in your mouth!
By my tally, we’ll have over 150 different wines available for you to sample. That is, of course, more wine than anyone can reasonably try in a three-hour tasting, so I have some tips for navigating a wine tasting – what to look for and what to taste with the wines. Wine and food go together – the aim in any wine pairing is to enhance the flavor of both the wine and the food and we’ll have 15 restaurants on hand offering pairings, including Two Chefs in Pinecrest, The Lazy Oyster (you may have seen them in Pop-ups all over town) and Vinya Table in Coral Gables. All the restaurants attending will be offering bites custom-made for wine pairing – an oyster with sparkling wine is a natural, but it will be fun seeing what the best matches for some of the other dishes are as well.
With all our great restaurants gearing up for a terrific evening, here are a couple of key things to remember when you have food and wine together:
- Spicy food is exciting, but avoid having chili spice with wines that have high alcohol or a lot of tannin. The chili heat is like sandpaper rubbing your tongue, and you become more sensitive. Instead of that high-alcohol Cabernet with a lot of tanning, try a low(ish) alcohol wine with plenty of fruit and not much tanning – Beaujolais for a red or a Riesling that might have a touch of sweetness. Sweet, make chili heat less hot!
- Food with a lot of acidity (think ceviche) pairs beautifully with wines with a lot of acidity, like Chablis, Albariño, Chenin Blanc and the Masianco I mentioned above – the acid in the food helps emphasize the fruitiness of the wine.
- Acid also helps cut through fatty foods, so a great pairing is a crisp white wine with anything fried.
- Sweet foods are hard to pair with wine – the sugar makes many wines taste sour. If you try one of the sweet treats on hand (and there will be several!), avoid the more tannic red wines and try sweet treats with sparkling wine instead.
I look forward to welcoming you to our terrific Wine and Food Experience on Wednesday, May 17. There are still tickets available, but I expect the event will sell out, so get your tickets now. We have VIP tickets (you gain entry an hour early and have a dedicated bar area) and General Admission (entry begins at 7 pm). They are value priced for a great evening, and I hope to see you there!