A Tasting Strategy for Wine, Beer, and Food
Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!
Well, that may be true sometimes, and then again it may be better to have a structured approach to tasting your way around A Taste Of Camarillo.
Anything can go with anything?
Many sources state that there aren’t any strict rules for pairing wine and food. And if that’s your point of view then you are welcome to it! (And you can skip reading this blog post and re-read the food, beer and wine posts.) If you want to get a game plan together for tasting at ATOC then read on …
The first thing to decide on is whether you’ll be tasting “geographically” or by category. Tasting geographically means that you sample the food or wine or beer from one booth and then move on to the next booth. This is convenient for moving around the festival without having to backtrack when you change styles, but you’ll have to hit “reset” on your taste buds every few minutes… and this is fairly tricky to do, especially after about 3 different wineries, or 3 different breweries, or worse yet, some combination of wineries and breweries. Add in the food pairing and it gets very challenging.
If you’re thirsty and decide to start with a few brew samples keep them light like Anacapa Brewing Company’s Seaward Golden Ale or Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company’s “101” Blonde. Wait until later to sample very hoppy brews, like The LAB Brewing Company’s “Hop Solution” Double IPA, or a bold brew like Enegren Brewing Company’s “Big Meat” Rauchbier.
If you want to taste wines by category you could start with white wines. After you complete your white wine tasting you could move on to rosé and then to red wines. This will make it much easier to appreciate and compare your selections. The problem with this approach is that you’ll need to put in a more leg work to cover several trips around the festival. You also run the risk of some red wines running out before you get back to them, or just not getting back to some wineries at all! Time flies when you’re having fun and A Taste Of Camarillo is always fun.
According to Wine Folly there are five main styles of wine.
Sparkling Wine A style of winemaking involving a secondary fermentation causing bubbles! Sparkling wine can be red, white or rosé and can range from minerally to rich and sweet.
White Wine A still wine produced from green and sometimes black grapes. Flavors span from rich and creamy to light and zesty.
Rosé Wine Still wine from black grapes produced by removing the skins before they deeply color the wine. Also formed by blending red and white wine together. Both dry and sweet styles of rosé are common.
Red Wine Still wine made with black grapes. These can range from light to dark and bone-dry to sweet.
Fortified Wine A style of winemaking involving fortifying wine with spirits. Typically a dessert wine, but many dry-style fortified wines exist such as dry Sherry.
Is it possible to cleanse your palate?
If you are serious about tasting it’s a good idea to brush your teeth well in advance, like four hours or more. The flavor of toothpastes tend to linger and mess up your taste buds. Flossing is good too – get rid of those breakfast burrito flavors hiding in between your teeth.
White bread is a standard palate-cleanser because it’s neutral in flavor. Try to find some bread at Panera Bread or some other food vendor. Drinking water between tastes is also good for both cleansing your palate and avoiding passing out. You know the old saying, “Hydrate before you lubricate!”
Another approach to cleansing your palate in between tastes is to bring something like SanTasti Classic Palate Revitalizing Water to the festival. This “palate revitalizer” works according to some professional wine tasters, but you’ll have to carry an extra 12 ounce glass bottle.
And if you must switch from red back to white be sure to rinse your wine glass out! Water is one way to do this (although there is a debate going on whether or not this dilutes your next taste). If water isn’t available you can ask for a very small pour of the wine you’re planning to taste next just to rinse out the previous wine.
The Nose Knows: Taste and Smell
Don’t forget that a very important part of tasting and the perception of flavor happens in your nose. According to the Society for Neuroscience, “Olfactory information … passes to adjacent parts of the orbital cortex, where the combination of odor and taste information helps create the perception of flavor.” So please don’t wear any perfume or after shave while tasting! There’s no need to add artificial scents into this already complex situation. You’ll be much more popular if you save those irresistible scents for other activities. And smoking cigarettes or cigars, even in advance, will create similar problems.
Food and Wine Pairing Tips
As a general rule taste milder foods first, then sample savory/spicy foods, and finally try sweets/desserts. The Wine Tasting Network provides a handy pairing chart that illustrates traditional recommendations for matching wine with food.
If all of this makes sense to you then go ahead and make a plan, and even if you end up not following it at least you’ll know where you went sideways. Sometimes it’s more important to discover new wines, brews and food while just having fun with friends. Hope to see you there, with or without your notes and clipboard!
For more information, visit www.tasteofcamarillo.com.
No Children/No One Under 21 will be admitted to these events.
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