Saturday, March 6, 2010

South Beach Wine & Food Festival Seminars

As part of my weekend activities at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, I had the opportunity to coordinate, and participate in, a series of educational wine (and food) seminars.
Lecturers for these seminars included wine educator/author Mr Kevin Zraly of Windows on the World Wine Course fame, Mr. Gary Vay – ner - chuk of Wine Library and Wine Library.TV, Lidia and Joseph Bastianich of Felidia, Becco, Del Posto, and Esca restaurants, 4 cookbooks, and Bastianich Wines, and Mr. Mark Oldman of the PBS Series The Winemakers and author of Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine.

Chefs involved in the seminars included Johnny Vinczencz, Michael Gilligan, Nobu Matsuhisa, and Thomas Buckley.

Topics ranged from Mr. Zraly’s classic “1-hour Wine Expert” and a variation (“1-hour Italian Wine Expert”) to Mr. Vaynerchuk’s and Mr. Oldman’s more modern styles of de-mystifying wine.

Mr. Vaynerchuk and Chef Gilligan hosted an 8-wine (ranging from Champagne to Cabernet Sauvignon to Rioja) pairing exercise with a wild mushroom ravioli dish to provide insight into how a wine and a food can work synergistically or antagonistically.

Mr. Oldman and Chef Johnny V. hosted a seminar titled Guilty Pleasures and the Wines That Love Them, pairing Wines like Laurent-Perrier Brut Rose, Stag’s Leap Winery Viognier, and Argyle Winery’s Nuthouse Pinot Noir with such dishes as slow smoked baby back ribs, Southern fried chicken with mac & cheese, and duck breast “meat loaf” over green pea mash. While I have participated in odd food and wine pairing exercises, never have the wines and foods worked so well.

What struck me overall is that Mr. Zraly, a wine educator with over thirty (30) years of experience in the purchase, sale, service, and education of wine, as well as several other preeminent wine educators, attended several of the other lecture events and sat in the back observing the style and presentation of the younger presenters.

When I asked him his opinion on the content and style of their presentations, Mr. Zraly had nothing but positive things to say, and enthused that Mr. Vaynerchuk had actually influenced the way in which he now approached some of the topics he typically covers.

As Mr. Zraly noted, whether it is himself presenting in his Brooks Brothers suit, or Mr. Vaynerchuk in his jeans and sportshirt, the message is the same – drink new and different wines as often as possible, expand your wine knowledge and vocabulary and, above all, trust your palate.

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to eventually meet Gary V. I like his integrity and appreciate what he has done to promote the wine culture even if it's a bit unorthodox. Though I like unorthodox. Plus he told me he loves my son's name CAGE!! How could I not like him:)