If you weren’t in attendance at yesterday’s tasting bonanza, you missed out tremendously. The 2012 Seattle Wine & Food Experience was a huge success and this year’s event brought together some of the Northwest’s finest wines, beers, ciders and spirits as well as delectable bites from a variety of area restaurants. I took a much different approach this year than I have at previous wine events: I didn’t drink wine. Well, I had a few tastes of wine at the event, but I wanted to switch it up a bit and focus more on our local beers, ciders and spirits (also, I had the privilege of attending an Oregon wine event the night prior, so I definitely didn’t miss out on the fine juice that state has to offer!). So, without further ado, my favorites this year of the 2012 Seattle Wine & Food Experience.
I was pleasantly surprised at the number of ciders available for tasting at the event. I have always enjoyed this somewhat mix of beer and wine so I was excited to try some different flavored ciders. My day started out tasting through the Finnriver (@finnriverfarm) line-up, including their Dry Hopped, Sparkling Black Current, and Sparkling Pear Ciders. Finnriver sources their organic fruit from their own farm and other local sources. They have great stuff and I look forward to trying more of it in the future.
(the Finnriver cider line-up)
My favorite cider of the day was from a second label of Crispin Cider called Fox Barrel (@FoxBarrel). Their flavors of pear cider were incredible, with a rhubarb & elderberry cider and a ginger & blackcurrent cider. I was a bit weary of the ginger one at first, but I ended up liking it a lot! These are both naturally fermented from 100% pear juice. I can’t wait to get my hands on some more of this, it’ll be perfect on a hot (assuming it ever gets hot here in Seattle) summer day!
(Fox Barrel Rhubarb & Elderberry Pear Cider)
I had made my first visit to Pike Brewing (@pikebrewing) just the night before, so I was happy to see them at the event as well. I haven’t previously had a lot from them, but have always heard great things about their beers. I sipped on some of the “Naughty Nellie” their golden artisan ale. As I’m more of a wine drinker than a beer drinker, I tend to gravitate toward the lighter ales, and this was right up my alley. A highlight of the afternoon was seeing Pike owner Charles Finkel walking around with his beer backpack that almost looked like a Ghostbusters pack. It was basically a keg in a backpack that he was providing tastes from!
I’ve not done a lot of spirits tasing, so the “distillery row” area of the Seattle Wine & Food Experience was a ton of fun. Highlights included the Sidetrack Distillery raspberry liqueur, the Project V (@ProjectVDistill) Single Silo Chai Vodka (sourced from ingredients from the Pike Place Market), and the Bendistillery (@Bendistillery) (clever, they’re from Bend, OR!) Crater Lake Vodka. While I’m a wine girl at heart, I LOVE a good martini and cocktail, so I’m excited to explore more of our local distilleries!
(Sidetrack Distillery liqueurs)
I was trying my best to eat everything in sight and I still didn’t manage to try everything. My favorite dish of the day had to be the Maine lobster tempura, sesame asparagus, and wasabi tobiko aioli from Tulalip Resort’s (@TulalipResort) Tulalip Bay Restaurant. I had this when I passed the table the first time, and most definitely grabbed another when I came back by again a short while later. Delicious! Other favorites were the pancetta wrapped dates with 15 year balsamic from Cantinetta (@CantinettaSEA) (also had two of those…), the duck sliders from Wild Ginger (they were disappearing quickly everytime they brought out more, we got lucky and snagged the last few in a batch when we came back by later, worth the wait!), and the boeuf Bourguignon stew from LUC, which was featured in the “Washington Beef Bistro” area of the event. So much food, so little time… while I missed out on several of the participating restaurants’ bites, I was extremely impressed with the selections I did have. I’ll be trying LUC out for the first time soon, and this was a great introduction!
OK. Being that this IS a wine event afterall, I do need to comment on a few of the wines. Because of the Oregon Wine After Dark event that was held the night prior to SWFE, I did much of my wine tasting in advance of the actual main event. My highlights from the Oregon tasting included the Brandborg Vineyard & Winery 2009 Umpqua Valley Gewürztraminer (it made me instantly think of summer.. something I miss dearly), the Brooks Wines 2010 Sweet P Riesling, and the Willamette Valley Vineyards (@willamettevv) 2008 Estate Pinot Noir. This being my first real experience trying several different Oregon wineries all at once, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll tell you this, Oregon wine does not disappoint. I definitely need to get myself down for a tasting trip ASAP. They do such great things with Pinot Noir that you just don’t see in Washington. I certainly look forward to continuing my education in Oregon wine!
Overall, this year’s Wine & Food Experience was the best yet. I LOVED the diversity in tasting options, so people (like me this year) could move away from wine and try a variety of other options. There was truly something for everyone at this year’s event and while it was crowded at times, it was manageable. I think the longer format of the event had people coming at staggered times, which made for shorter lines and a much better experience (hence the name, it’s all about the experience!). This event gets better every year and I can’t wait to see what tricks Jamie Peha (of Peha Promotions) has up her sleeve for next year!