12th annual Steamboat Wine Festival to take place this weekend
August 6, 2015
Steamboat Springs — For foodies and wine connoisseurs everywhere, the annual Steamboat Wine Festival is back in town this weekend.
Marking its 12th year, the festival celebrates more than 100 food artisans, wineries, breweries, distilleries, epicurean purveyors and locally-made products during the five-day event, which starts Aug. 5 and ends Aug. 9. Local and national vendors will come together for a series of activities that include wine and food tastings, seminars and cooking demonstrations.
There are a number of professionals who will be available for questions at all of the events, and here are some wine-tasting tips from a few of the experts.
When it comes to tastings, master sommelier Sally Mohr said she typically starts with Champagne or sparkling wines to get in more of a "festive mood."
Building up her pallet, she would then opt for the lighter-bodied whites and reds that can be tasted together. Once embarking on the big, heavy tannic reds, she said it's hard to go back to whites or lighter reds because those will taste overly "whimpy" after the bold tastes.
Drinking vs. tasting
While many are anxious to dive head first and start tasting everything in sight, master sommelier Doug Krenik, in his fourth year at the Steamboat Wine Festival, said attendees need to learn restraint and consumption.
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"My usual textbook advice is that if you are not from here, keep in mind the altitude factor and stay hydrated," he said. "This is a rare opportunity to have this breadth and varietal of wines to taste — a little bit of everything from around the planet — but you have to keep in mind, everything in moderation and remember to be kind to your body."
The art of spitting
With over 300 wines to choose from, Krenik said attendees shouldn't swallow all of those. Hence, those tasting wines need to embrace the art of spitting, which is best to do after the overall flavor and sensation of the wine is experienced.
"When you spit a wine, you are evaluating it," Mohr said. "When you swallow a wine, you are just drinking. The art of spitting is just like swishing and spitting mouthwash."
Containers will be available at each tasting station where attendees can access the "spittoon." Be forewarned, Mohr said, there can be splash back that is often unpleasant and messy.
Navigating a wine fest
For those new to the festival or curious about which event to attend, event director Katie Schultze said to review the schedule and consider one of the seminars, grand tastings or the big event on Saturday — the "Toast of Steamboat." Those offer a private experience with the experts who will answer questions and will offer a number wines for a well-rounded tasting.
Mohr said there are two different approaches to a large wine tasting. The first, is to look over the program and pick a favorite grape variety and try them all. The second, is to look for grapes or names previously unheard of and try something new.
"You might find a new favorite," she said.
Mohr also advised to be on the lookout for different kind of grapes, unique names, regions and countries that may be unexplored territory.
"The big tastings are a great opportunity to explore wines that are unfamiliar," Mohr said. "Listen and ask questions — always the best way to learn."
Steamboat Wine Festival’s Saturday events
"California Dreamin" — Steamboat Grand, 11 a.m. to noon
Featuring a tasting of wines from Santa Barbara County. 2300 Mount Werner Circle.
The new seminar, "Beer vs. Wine" — Saddles at the Sheraton hotel, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Master sommelier Doug Krenik and Odell Brewery founder Doug Odell will take pairings to another level. 2200 Village Inn Court.
"Slice Slice Baby" — Colorado Mountain College, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The cooking demo is guided by Chef Bill Watkins. Attendees can learn proper hand placement and the fundamental cuts, helping them master one of the most important tools in the kitchen. 1275 Crawford Ave.
"Combo at Mambo" tasting — Mambo Italiano, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Attendees can sip and savor their way through this interactive seminar that will introduce traditional and unexpected food and wine pairings. 521 Lincoln Ave.
"If the Wine Matters, So Does the Glass" — The Porches, noon to 1:15 p.m.
This is a Riedel comparative wine glass workshop to showcase wine in its finest form. 2096 Indian Summer Drive.
"Tour De New France" — Steamboat Grand, 1 to 1:50 p.m.
Learn about up and coming regions in the South of France that are becoming known throughout the world as locations that produce "value" wines. 2300 Mount Werner Circle.
"Colorado Craft" — Carl's Tavern, 1 to 2:15 p.m.
Colorado has over 40 licensed distillers, and this seminar will introduce attendees to some of the best craft distillers in the business. 700 Yampa St.
"Toast of Steamboat" — Gondola Square, 3 to 6 p.m.
This will be the grand finale event of the weekend with an impressive assortment of domestic and international wines, premium craft beer, spirits, food and live music. VIP tickets are also available for the event. 2305 Mount Werner Circle
"Amo II Vino" – Four Points Lodge, 7 to 10 p.m.
With an incredible view of the Yampa Valley, the Four Points Lodge will host a five-course meal with specific wine pairings for a unique dining experience. 2305 Mount Werner Circle.
All tickets can be purchased online at http://steamboatwinefestival.com/schedule/ and those do sell out quickly.