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Taste Washington Wine and Food Festival: April 4-5, Seattle

TWLogo.jpgI may be a little bit like a broken record when it comes to large public tasting events. I can't underscore enough to my readers how valuable they are for their ability to help novice wine lovers turn into experienced ones. There is simply no better way to educate your palate (or even just find out what kind of wine you like and do not like) than to attend a large public tasting.

Such tastings are all the more valuable when they are focused on a particular style of wine, or a particular region. When it comes to regional tastings, you don't get much more authoritative than the Taste Washington festival, the definitive event for Washington wine. Most people can't imagine that the state even has more than 200 producers, let alone contemplate the idea of all of them being under one roof for a day, tasting their wines. But of course, that is TW08-1.jpgexactly what happens, as vintners from around the state gather to present their recent vintages to the public on Sunday April 5th

I'm particularly excited to attend, if only to taste more Washington wine in an afternoon than I normally get to in a year. But I'm also moderating a panel tasting during the seminar day of April 4th. I've selected six wines, all of which have been made by producers that don't have their own wineries. These Winery-less Wines are made everywhere from garages to barns to borrowed facilities, and represent some of the up-and-coming names in the Washington State wine scene. Small garagiste operations can and sometimes do turn into cult wineries in a matter of a few short years, while others disappear off the map. In short, these little wineries are downright exciting, especially when they are making great wine.

I certainly don't expect anyone to attend the event simply by virtue of my seminar -- there are plenty of other seminars to choose from, as well as the main event of the Grand tasting, where a ton of wineries will be joined by 60 restaurants to offer a taste extravaganza of epic proportions. If you like Washington State wines, or if you want to once-and-for-all decide whether you do or not, this event is highly recommended.

Taste Washington Wine Festival

Seminars: April 4th 10:45 AM - 5:30 PM
Bell Harbor International Conference Center
Pier 66
2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121 (map)

Grand Tasting: April 5th 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Qwest Field Event Center
1000 Occidental S
Seattle, WA 98104 (map)

Tickets for the seminars are $45-$60 for each session, and the grand tasting costs $85. Tickets can be bought online as well as from select retail locations around Seattle. See the event web site for tickets and more details about the seminars.

My usual tips for such tastings: get a good night's sleep; wear dark clothing; drink lots of water; make sure your belly is full; and spit if you really want to learn anything.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud 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 World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.