On Sunday my taste buds took a trip around the world at the Taubman Museum of Art’s International Wine Festival. Thirteen stations with thirty-six different wines to taste…I’ll admit it was a little overwhelming at first.
At check-in, my mom and I received our tickets—designed to look like a flight boarding pass—and a “map” of the venue. Instead of following the guide to table one, we ventured into the world of reds first. Neither of us drinks red wine regularly, so it was a little out of our comfort zone to taste the first sample. Surprisingly, we both loved it. Not too dry, sweeter than expected, and very smooth. A great start.
We had to pick and choose carefully which stations we visited. There was no way we would be able to try all of the different varieties on display, so, similar to how we shop for wine at the grocery store, we chose our tastings based on the label. A pretty label doesn’t always mean a tasty wine, so our method isn’t full proof by any means. But eight times out of ten, we aren’t disappointed.
After the reds it was on to the whites, our favorite part of the event. I personally prefer Pinot Grigio, and my mom recently took a fancy to Vouvray. But seeing all of the different whites on hand—many types I’ve never heard of—we agreed to be adventurous. Verdejo, Viognier, White Blend, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc…where to begin?
With all the delicious wine, we needed to fill in with something savory. There was so much food—the choices rivaled the wine selection—but I had my eye on only one offering: baked Brie with fig preserves. Yum! What goes better with wine than cheese? Nothing, if you ask me.
All in all, we sampled eight or ten of the thirty-six wines. A select few stood out for me. Here are my picks for top red, white, and sparkling from the International Wine Festival.
RED: Primeras Vinas Malbec, Mendoza/Australia
It was the first time I’ve tried Malbec, but after tasting a couple of other types of red wine, this was the clear winner. And yes, I first wanted to try it after seeing the gorgeous label. In this case, you should judge a book by its cover. You won’t be disappointed.
WHITE: Bornos Verdejo, Rueda/Spain; Fincastle Viognier, Virginia
These two were equally delicious. I’ve never had Verdejo, but you can guarantee I’ll be looking for it the next time I go grocery shopping. And as for the Fincastle Viognier…well, it seems there is a weekend winery trip in my future.
SPARKLING: Mandorli Brachetto d’Acqui, Italy
The story behind this wine captured my heart…and my taste buds. According to the attendant, Marc Antony used this exact wine to seduce Cleopatra. One sip, and I completely understood. Slightly fizzy, sweet, light, and fruity. I’m no wine expert, but I know what I like. And I liked this particular wine so much that I bought a bottle of it later that afternoon. It’s traditionally a dessert wine, but it paired nicely with the tomato and spinach quiche I had for dinner. And the black and white cookie I had for dessert.
Here is the complete list of wines featured at this year’s International Wine Festival: