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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spit, Don't Swallow!

I know, I know...

It's been a long time since I've given my Marie's World blog any love. I've been running around countries and cities trying to make a living, but that's a whole other blog. Which I will write. Soon. No, really, I promise. For now, I'm going to stay current and share some of my recent history, rather than the missing three months of entries I have yet to write. So, here goes...

What a whirlwind weekend! A travel and food writer, I’ve been focused on far-off destinations and exotic locales, barely stopping to check out what was happening in my own backyard. Luckily, Leslie Sbrocco and the Thirsty Girl gang were quick to remind me that the New York Wine Expo was taking place at the Javitz Center this past weekend. As a New York Thirsty Girl, I just had to attend. 

Leslie has been informing my drinking palate over the past year, and Kristen, her gorgeous partner in crime, had taken me on a whirlwind tour of Napa and Sonoma during fall harvest. In my continued wine education, the New York Wine Expo was just the thing I needed to keep pushing me in a more savvy direction. It was a perfect one-two hit, as the New York Times Travel Show, the other event on my weekend’s appointment calendar, was taking place next door! Wine plus travel; what could be better?

I arrived on Friday night primed for some tasting. Leslie was hosting a seminar Taste Wine Like a Pro: Learn the Secrets of Tasting Through a Blind Tasting when I arrived, captivating the audience with her easy, fun-loving approach to the enjoyment of wine and tasting. After collecting my tasting glass, I headed off. Over 700 wines, almost 200 winemakershow would I get through it all?  Confession: it wasn’t that hard. Through Leslie and Thirsty Girl I’ve learned that committing to wine is a pleasure, not a chore.

With exhibitors from some of my favorite regions in Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and the Rhône Valley, I stopped in for some familiar sips of Tempranillos, Alentejo reds, Malbecs, and Côtes du Rhônes. I was thrilled to stumbled across the Graham’s & Dow’s Port table, one of my favorite indulgences from Portugal. In sampling these favored regions, I discovered a few new additions to my regular rotation. 

In Spain, I enjoyed the Zagarrón Sandogal Ciranza Selección, an especially lush Tempranillo, and Las Reñas from Dos Familias Importers, cheap and easy everyday reds. In Argentina, I swooned over the Vinorum Bradsen Gran Reserva, a 100% Malbec affair. In the Rhône Valley, I discovered the Côtes du Rhône, Familie Quiot--Château du Trignon and the Côtes du Rhône, Ogier, “Les Moirets.” Both were light and fruity, not too tannic. Hands down, these two were my favorite new wines of the night.

Chatting with the various distributors, I learned about Ice Cider from Vermont (too sweet), Jam Jar sweet Shiraz from South Africa (way too sweet), sparkling Shiraz from Australia (delicious), and a new Pinot from Napa’s Fulcrum Wines. I also turned onto wine regions in places I didn’t know were making wine—The Finger Lakes in New York, Santorini, Greece, and Brazil—and wondered how to work these lesser publicized wine destinations into my work as a travel writer.

At the end of the night, I jumped over to the Thirsty Girl booth to say goodnight to Leslie and company. There, a couple of old favorites like the Ravenswood Zinfandel (Sonoma) and the Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) begged favor before a hint of bubbles sent me back onto the well-traveled New York City road. Now I admit, I didn’t always spit, so I was a bit wobbly for wear, but I came out of it in one piece and with a fair amount more knowledge about one of my favorite!