If we were ever in doubt regarding the amount of alcohol this city (OK, or its residents) like to consume, this past Saturday at the 11th Annual International Wine & Food Festival permanently erased any doubt.
Within 30 minutes of entering the event, we ran into our first drunk person -- and within an hour of entering the event a completely intoxicated married man try to steal one of us away while his wife watched in bemused amazement.
Yes. You definitely get your drinking money’s worth.
Upon entry, each attendee got a wine glass imprinted with the event’s signature, and then it was up to them to find what region of the world you wanted to slurp up with merry abandonment. Six hundred different wines were poured, and poured liberally. Every vendor we tried attempted to give us half a glass' worth! So much for just a "tasting."
The selections from Hungary and France were notable, but it was the grape stuff from the Spanish vineyard Bodega Del Palacio de los Frontuara y Victoria that really had the crowd lined up. With four different varietals of reds moving from light to heavy, we wouldn’t say the reds were particularly special. They were bold, sure, and slightly overwhelming at the last, but not worth all the attention.
Our fave was from Deutschland. The Einig-Zensen wine conglomerate servued up a pitch-perfect Sonnenhofberger Riesling, which was bright and fruity without the heavy saccharine sweetness Rieslings are often susceptible to.
But it was a bit of a misnomer to call this event a "food and wine" fest. With an equal food and wine billing, the food component of this event was actually less than one percent -- and the entire food court upstairs was food made by the Ronald Reagan Building kitchen, not exactly known for its culinary prowess despite the numerous weddings which do occur there. We did enjoy the espresso gelato and the falafel sample, but we think the "food" in the title was a nod to the Chef Demo Stage.
With the limited food selection, my standout food vendor would be the colorful table by the Copper Pot Food Company. The owner Stefano was there sampling his "artisinal" foods (their spelling, not the dictionary's), including the scrumptious joy of their Tuscan dipping oil. The soft potato bread eagerly absorbed this slightly sweet, slightly tangy olive oil, and if there weren’t a line of people behind us, we probably would have eaten an entire loaf's worth.
So if you are a true wine spectator, then this event was for you. If you are a foodie, then not so much. Better start prepping your liver for next year.