If there is one public wine tasting event that rivals San Francisco's yearly ZAP Zinfandel tasting for sheer size and chaos, it could only be the annual SF Chronicle Wine Competition Tasting. Every year the San Francisco Chronicle (with a lot of help) holds a wine competition, judged by more than 60 wine professionals, in which they award medals to their top choices from among over 4,700 wines from all across America. This competition has grown over the last nine years to be the largest competitive tasting of American wines in the world.
The judges hand out hundreds of medals and awards. Those awards are released to the public, and then about a month later, many of the award winning wines, plus a lot more are poured for the public in a four-hour event that takes over Fort Mason for a Saturday afternoon. There are usually cooking demonstrations and food booths, and various other diversions.
Regardless of how I feel about such wine competitions, this tasting, like all such public events, represents an incredible opportunity to educate your palate and discover new wines to enjoy. This tasting in particular offers a unique chance to taste wine from a lot of less well known wine regions (i.e. not California, Oregon, or Washington) in addition to hundreds of wines from the places that most people know and love.
So if you don't have plans this Saturday and want to expand your oenological horizons, the experience is well worth the price of admission.
San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting
Saturday, February 19, 2009 2pm - 5pm
Festival Pavilion - Fort Mason Center
Marina Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94123 (map)
Tickets are $60 if purchased in advance, $80 at the door. To purchase tickets visit www.winejudging.com or call 888.695.0888.
My usual tips for large public tastings: get a good night's sleep; go with food in your belly; wear dark clothes; drink lots of water; and if you want to really enjoy yourself, SPIT!
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