On a lazy, warm Sunday afternoon, what could be better than drinking wine? How about drinking a lot of wine in an hour and a half? Well, I hope you were able to make it out to Grapefest this weekend and got into the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, where you could sample 113 wines from 33 different Texas wineries.
I know I could not pass up the chance to revisit some wines I have covered previously while exploring some new places and adding them to my list of wineries to visit.
Before you got to go into the pavilion area, I offer a couple of pieces of advice based on experience. First, ask yourself why you are going in. Do you want to drink to have a good buzz and converse with friends or do you want to taste every wine? Most people choose the first route and I do not blame you. Wine is meant to be a social event and having discussions with your friends about which wine you like best is fun.
My suggestion to you is that you and your friends pick a category and try all of those wines first to figure out which you like the best, then move on to another category till you run out of time. Unless you are some crazy wine guy who made it his goal to taste everything, this is how the event should be done. However…
If you want to taste every wine, it will be impossible to drink all of the wine. That would be like taking 100 shots of wine in an hour! If you could stumble your way through the crowds to get to the booths, there is no guarantee that you would even remember if you had been there before. If your goal is to taste every wine, you will need to spit out all of the wine. Yes, I said spit and believe me, from personal experience, you will get people looking at you like you have lost your mind.
As I was spitting wine into a dump bucket, I heard a lady look at her daughter and say “Oh my god, he is spitting all that wine!” You will be that person but at least you can say you tried everything, if that matters.
Armed with my glass and packed in with the thirsty masses like cows to the slaughter, the gates opened at one pm and it was time to drink. Doing the math in my head, if I was going to drink 113 wines in 90 minutes, I was going to need to taste fast and furiously. Unfortunately (but fortunately) some of the wines had already been consumed and it was out of stock before I could get there.
I know Benjamin Calais is busy pressing Cabernet Franc, giving him an excuse for not being at his station but that still left 105 wines to be tried. So I trudged along, marking any wines that really caught my attention. Here is a short list of wines I took note of:Grayson Hills Tempranillo (1st vintage from 5 year old vines, this wine will just get better every year) Pillar Bluff Tyler Pilot Knob Vineyard Proprietary White La Buena Vida Vineyards Scarborough Mead Red Caboose Winery Merlot Tara Winery Southern Sunset Bluff Dale White Cliff Proprietary White McPherson Cellars Rose of Grenache (Proof that not all Roses have to be sweet) Chisholm Trail Silver Spur Fairhaven Chambourcin (A varietal I had never heard of or tasted and was moderately successful)
Each provided some characteristic that sparked my interest, like the full weight and tannins of the Red Caboose Merlot or the slightly sweet yet rich Tara Southern Sunset and their use of Black Spanish. In the end, I did make it through all 105 wines available to taste but just barely. As I collected myself from the rush of tasting, a horn went off and the wines disappeared, as did the people.
I had to judge for myself which wines I thought were best. If you have never done an event like this before, I highly recommend it. Having fun drinking while being critical about which you liked better helps everyone explore what wine has to offer, maybe even finding a new favorite.