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08.12.2007

Family Winemakers Tasting: August 19, San Francisco

fwm_tasting2007.jpgSize isn't everything, they say, but sometimes it's mighty impressive. The yearly Family Winemakers tasting in San Francisco has as one of its many claims to fame that it is the single largest tasting of California wines in the world. That alone would not be reason for excitement, were it not for the generally exceptional quality of the wines that are on offer, year after year.

Regular readers know that this tasting is quite possibly my favorite every year. It provides an opportunity to sample the wares of smaller, family-run wineries, many of whose wines are made in such small quantities that they do not receive wide distribution. Because most of these wines are made in such small quantities, by folks who often take extra care in their creation, a trip around the tasting is a very clear window into the quality of the recent vintage in California, from the 2004 Cabernet, to the 2005 Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Grenache, and many 2006 wines as well.

If you've never been to a large public tasting of wine, then this might very well be the best one to experience for the first time. Such tastings are a fantastic way to learn about wine in a way that you simply can't anywhere else -- by tasting scores of wines in comparison with one another.

So set aside a few hours next Sunday, buy a ticket, and enjoy some of the best that California has to offer. I certainly will be.

Family Winemakers Public Tasting
Sunday August 19th, 12:00 Noon until 4:00 PM
Herbst Pavilion
Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, CA 94123-1382

Tickets are available for $45 in advance through the Fort Mason Ticket office. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door on the day of the event for $55.

Trust me when I say you want to buy a ticket in advance. Also trust me that you want to park far far away from Fort Mason and then cab, walk, or take a bus to the event, as street parking, or even parking in Fort Mason's paid lot is nearly impossible.

Finally, do yourself a favor and observe my tips for large public tastings: wear dark clothes; come with your stomach full, plan which wineries you want to visit using the list on the web site, and for Pete's sake, SPIT! You may think that you need to swallow to enjoy the experience, but you really don't. You'll be able to taste many more wines and will actually learn something, instead of ending up a stumbling drunken fool that the rest of us make fun of.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud