What a great event! I had my skeptical moments, first when we saw the massive line waiting to get in, and a few other times when the people pouring wine were completely clueless about the wine they were pouring, but overall while it was a little too cocktail-heavy, I thought the Newport Winefest was fantastic.
As entered the first tent on the grounds of the Newport Yachting Center, we received glasses to use for the evening in addition to an event program with information on the various vendors.
There were plenty of people working the event, and it ran very smoothly. And they had real, inside bathrooms with lines that moved quickly. That’s important!
There was a lot of wine to be tasted, and rather than cover them all, I thought I would share some new and old favorites instead. You can see the complete festival lineup here.
We enjoyed Sauvignon Blanc from Quivira, a winery we missed on our last Dry Creek Valley trip. We also loved this very dry Whispering Angel Rosé from the South of France. It was an unusual, very pale Rosé, light and summery.
Though we were going to miss Beringer’s Great Steak Challenge, we stopped by for a sip of their Sauvignon Blanc as well.
I found the Pop Chips. . . several times throughout the evening. I love the salt and pepper so much!
Always a lover of Austrian wine, I liked this Grooner Gruner Veltliner for its crisp, fresh citrus flavors. Their marketing is a lot of fun too, and the representative pouring the wine was very passionate about Gruner and had a lot of knowledge about the wine.
Every wine tasting I go to has Cabot cheese, and I am always sure to sample some of my favorites.
We sipped bubbly St. Germain cocktails and enjoyed a rosato wine by Lidia Bastianich’s family, made a friend from Casa Sola in Tuscany, had many laughs in the Hendrick’s tent, set up to look like colonial India with rich fabrics, travel trunks, and even a croquet area.
They had a wide array of cocktail samples, but I loved the cucumber and jalapeno cocktail with a pickle garnish. It was nice and spicy but also refreshing.
One of our favorites of the event was the Cigar Box Malbec, a big, intense red made with 100% Malbec grapes from Mendoza Argentina. I will definitely be hunting down a few bottles of this wine soon!
Our favorite wine table overall was definitely the White Oak Winery table where we tasted their Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and chatted with the representative who actually works at the winery. One of the nice things about Newport Winefest was that many of the people pouring wine were closely connected to it, either being the winemakers themselves or working at the winery. Often when the wine is poured by a large distributor, they represent so many brands that I end up knowing more about the wine than they do!
For the Joseph Carr wines, we had the pleasure of meeting Joseph Carr himself and tasting his fantastic Napa Cab made from a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. The New York Times called him a wine producer to watch, and his wine certainly lives up to that.
From the beginning of the event we decided to save the Balvenie and Glenfiddich tables for “dessert”, so after some great seafood and more Pop Chips, we wandered over to the main tent to visit the William Grant booth. On the way there I saw this cool absinthe table. I didn’t try any, but I thought it was a great action shot!
When we finally got to the William Grant tables, we were greeted with an array of Scotch whisky’s from Balvenie and Glenfiddich and some friendly and knowledgeable representatives. Tasting through the lineup was the perfect way to end the event. As the weather was getting cooler and more overcast, breathing in the smell of the Scotch brought back memories of many visits to Ireland.
We finished the night with some great food at The Wharf Pub in Newport.
Wine tasting tips
- If you can avoid wearing perfume, do. Tasting wine is so much about smelling it that overwhelming scents can completely ruin the experience.
- Take your pour, and step to the side. There is plenty of wine to go around, and hugging the table while people wait behind you is just rude.
- You don’t need to drink the entire pour you are given. It’s perfectly fine to spit or dump it out, even if you love it. The pours at Newport Winefest were big,sometimes half glasses of wine, and if I actually drank them all I would have been in trouble!
- Taking photos is not just for bloggers!I got so many compliments on the idea to photograph the labels of wines I enjoyed. It’s an instant memory helper!
- Try something new. That’s what I love most about these types of events. They are great at helping you to find new wines. Think you don’t like Merlot?
Newport Mansions Food and Wine Festival, my favorite event of the year, is also coming up on September 25.
Whew, long post! I hope you are still with me! Did you do anything fun this weekend?
I will pick a winner for my CSN Stores giveaway tonight, so be sure to enter if you haven’t!