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2008 Wegmans Wine Tasting November 26, 2008

Posted by Toy Lady in Food, Rochester, Wine & Spirits.
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The evening we’ve been waiting a while for. πŸ™‚ The fourth annual Rochester Wine & Food Festival.

a.k.a. our “Big Night Out.” πŸ˜€

Peeps and I have attended this wine event since its inception in 2005 when Century comped us a pair of tickets (probably because we were such great customers!), and we’ve enjoyed it every year since. Each previous year, this has truly been a community event with multiple sponsors and the opportunity for various local restaurants to show off their skills, while raising piles of money for charity.

This year, the event was sponsored solely by Wegmans, and, by extension, Century Liquor Century Pittsford Wines, and the charity was Hillside Children’s Center.

This year, the wine tasting was held on a Friday evening, unlike the prior years when it was on Saturday. So we got home from work, walked the dog, fed the dog, grabbed a nibble, changed clothes and headed out.

Yes, I know. It’s a Wine & Food Festival. But prior years have taught us not to count on the actual “food” part too much – it’s really more like a random shot at hors d’oeuvres. That, and at any given time, there will be mobs of people making short work of any crumb of food available. We’re just better off not going in hungry, that’s all. And that’s besides the whole wine-tasting thing!

As soon as we arrived, and once we showed proper ID, we were wrist-banded.

Which, I guess, is far better than having our hands stamped, right?

It’s kind of a sad statement, that, in this day of “CYA” because of society’s fondness for assigning blame to whomever has the “deepest pockets,” not only did we have to provide proof that we were of legal drinking age to get into a wine tasting, we had to, essentially, be able to show that proof at each table.

PhotobucketOnce we were banded, we were each handed our “goody bags” which were two more Wegmans reusable bags. Nice. πŸ™‚ Seriously, I have one Weggies bag and one Tops bag in my car at all times . . . but between my apparent middle-aged memory loss (I’m too young to be this senile!) and our never-ending need for poo bags, we don’t use them as often as we probably should. πŸ™„

In the bags were a guide listing what wines were offered at which table, the current issues of Menu magazine and Wine Spectator, a wrist band “it’s about graduation” and a stack of literature about Hillside. OK.

Here we go then, braving the mob.

And it was indeed a mob. There were HUNDREDS of people packing the Wegmans Conference Center. Fortunately, Wegmans did provide ice water, in addition to the wine and nibbles.

And the appetizers were nice. Lovely cheese trays (I was unfortunately unable to get a decent picture through the hordes of people surrounding them).

Sushi tables. I’d never had sushi. There was, indeed, the safer veggie type. And there was also the fish type. It certainly is pretty, isn’t it? You know, in a, uh, raw fish kind of way. 😳

And there were, of course, people with trays circulating, offering hot hors d’oeuvres, as well. Seriously. They had little note cards on the trays. 😯


Note – never ever serve “chili con queso tortilla trumpets” at a wine tasting. It’s disgusting. yuck.gif I’m just saying.

So, now that the food has been covered, what about the wine, you ask?

Well, that’s kind of a tough one. We know enough about wines, and what we do and don’t like, that we definitely knew what to stay away from – so there were no, you know, YUCK moments. Yet there’s not a lot of point in attending a wine tasting just to stay inside our comfort zone, is there?

The Veuve Clicquot table – definitely within our comfort zone. πŸ˜€ And clearly, I wasn’t the only one who was happy with that Champagne, was I?

But oddly, I think the Veuve Cliquot table may have been the only actual Champagne. No, that’s not true – the Jean-Marie guy was there. But really, that was about it.

The Italian distributer – the one who always has a Brunello di Montalcino of some sort – was nowhere to be found – and we did look. πŸ˜₯

A port, a couple of sherries, an ice wine – all of which are nice enough; the sherry and the ice wine were domestic, for what that’s worth.

There was a lovely table of Bourgogne and Bordeaux – known as the “Big Boys’ Table” at that end of the room – but nothing really notable, and certainly no Margaux.

The gentleman hosting the Big Boys’ Table was actually a sommelier at Tastings Restaraunt. . . another Wegmans endeavor. 😯

Our surprise hit, and there always is one, was an Australian red – Domaine Terlato Shiraz Viognier. It was a huge surprise for a couple of reasons – one, we’re not enamored of Shiraz. Not Australian wines, for that matter. Not really. And I’ve always known the varietal Viognier as a white wine grape. Finding it blended in a red is. . . unexpected. And bold as it was, I was quite surprised – and I enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

There were certainly plenty of other good wines – the Finger Lakes sherry was not bad at all, there was a very nice Spanish red, of course, and some of the other Finger Lakes wines were surprisingly good (coming from an “old world wine snob”). We sampled this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau, and it was not bad at all.

Ultimately, though, we were disappointed with the “2008 Wine & Food Festival.” We paid a fairly hefty price for the tickets, and we had hoped to have the opportunity to “taste” a variety of wines that we otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to try. If this had been simply a walk-in wine-tasting at Century, then I would have no problem being served wine-lake imports (I mean, come on, has Mouton Cadet really changed in the past decade?) and worse yet, low-end domestic wines (Arbor Mist? Really?).

This “event” was turned into an enormous marketing opportunity for Wegmans, and Wegmans alone, and, more’s the pity, we who attended actually paid for the privilege of jostling for the frozen appetizers and $10 wine.

I had just hoped for something a little better, I guess. πŸ™„





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Comments

1. Sue - November 28, 2008

Bummer on the festival. Perhaps next spring or fall you will have to come to a NJ Grower’s festival w/ me and sample some NJ wines. There are surprisingly good ones :). Excellent that you have a couple of days off. Some of us are stuck here at work, hoping to be let out early.

2. Toy Lady - November 28, 2008

Aw, poor Sue. πŸ˜₯

We might just take you up on your offer . . . it has been too long, hasn’t it? The festival wasn’t “bad” you know – it just wasn’t the amazing event it’s been in years past, that’s all.

Peeps asks whether it’s actually safe to drink Jersey wine. 😯

Want me to smack him? πŸ˜‰

3. Home Sweet Century « Dark Side of the Fridge - May 20, 2009

[…] even comped tickets for us to their first Food & Wine Festival in 2005, which we thoroughly enjoyed.Β  We were actually interviewed for the D&C’s […]


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