There are two seasons in Minnesota, Winter and Wine Festival Season! Spring through Fall you'll find dozens of great opportunities to taste Minnesota wine. The MN Grape Grower's Spring Wine Fest, this year on St. Patrick's Day, generally kicks off the season with over 40 MN wineries pouring wine. These sampling extravaganzas generally come with a hefty entrance fee, so how do you get the most from the $40 plus dollars you paid? Having poured at dozens of these, I offer my favorite tips.
SPRINT FOR IT
Yes, literally run to the furthest corner from the entrance. While everyone else is crammed around the closest booths to the entry, you'll enjoy the full attention of the tasting staff at the back of the room.
Develop a tasting strategy for the evening. Some that I have used are:
1. Try the server's favorite red and favorite white wine at every booth.
2. Try the same variety at every booth, like Marquette or LaCrescent
3. Try only each wineries best selling wine.
4. Try only the latest released wine at every booth.
It takes discipline to limit yourself to one or two samples at each booth, but it really helps keep you moving and focused and it's fun!
SPIT. YES, REALLY
Forget that you paid $40 to get in. If you start out drinking every sample your poured, you'll be three sheets to the wind by your 10th booth. Or possibly your 5th! The goal is to get to everyone. So make your first go-round your Spit Lap. TIP for discreet spitting: take a paper cup, like a coffee cup, around with you. Spit into that cup by holding the cup to your lips and doing the opposite of sipping. Then empty your cup into the spit buckets that should be placed at every booth.
Take pictures of the wine labels from the wines you loved best. And because you're spitting, you'll actually be able to tell what you like from what you don't.
Now that you've made the rounds, use the photo journal of labels you took, to guide you back to your favorites. Savor these second samples by enjoying every drop! And then head to your favorite winery or liquor store and stock up on Minnesota wine to enjoy at home.
MORE UPCOMING MN WINE FESTIVALS:
April 28 - CLINK! - at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, MN
June 9 - CIDER FESTIVAL (yes, Cider is wine!) - Location TBA
July 21 & 22 - CANNON RIVER ART & WINE FESTIVAL - Cannon Falls, MN