Wine Wisdom from the Taste of Vail

April 12 2012, 12:25 PM

The 22nd annual Taste of Vail was held last weekend under warm springtime skies. The primary focus of the three-day event was wine: What to sip (tasting seminars introduced participants to new finds); how to drink (ideally in Riedel glasses made specifically for each varietal); and how to successfully pair food with wine. Here are my favorite takeaways from each category:

What to drink:

Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from Margerum Wine Company in Santa Barbara: A crisp, clean white with hints of apple and lemon.

Vitae Springs Vineyard Pinot Gris 2010 from St. Innocent Winery in Oregon: a dry and spicy Alsatian-style white that offers more depth and texture than typically associated with this wine.

Cava Brut Nature Reserva 2008 from Spain’s Castellroig Winery: A bright, dry, and slightly creamy sparkling that would be perfect with oysters.

Sentinel Northridge Vineyard 2009 from Milbrandt Vineyards in Washington State: An excellent Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Set to be released this September.

How to drink:

I've attended wine glass seminars by Riedel, the crystal wine glass company, in the past and have always been impressed by how the size and shape of the glass influences my enjoyment of wine. To learn more about the kind of glass perfect for your favorite varietal, look here. My favorite tip: Don't wash your wine glasses after 10 p.m.

Pairing tips:

1. Food changes the taste of wine, not the other way around. Sweet food makes wine sour; sour food softens wine and makes it less acidic (which makes it the most food friendly). For more detailed information about which wines to pair with specific foods, check out this wine-pairing guide from Beringer.

2. Food without salt needs wine without oak (think: sushi with sake).

3. Dessert wine should be sweeter than dessert.

4. Try a crisp, cold Sancerre with tangy goat cheese.