If you want to really get to know wine and become acquainted with those who craft it, meet new wine-loving friends, and develop a solid grasp of what the French call joie de vivre, attend a wine festival. There are more wine festivals devoted to pinot noir than any other varietal, and I attend most of them each year both in California and Oregon. I can highly recommend the following celebrations:
Feb. 28 to March 1, 2014, World of Pinot Noir, Bacara Resort, Santa Barbara: worldofpinot.com.
March 9, 2014, 12th Annual Pinot Noir Summit, Golden Gate Club at the Presidio, San Francisco: pinotnoirsummit.com.
April 11 to 13, 2014, Pinot Paradise, Santa Cruz Mountains: scmwa.com.
May 16 to 19, 2014, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: avwines.com.
July 25 to 27, 2014, International Pinot Noir Celebration, McMinnville, Ore: ipnc.org.
Aug. 1 to 3, 2014, West Sonoma County Vintners West of West Festival, Sebastopol: westsonomacoast.com.
Nov. 8, 2014, West Sonoma County Vintners West of West Festival, Anaheim: westsonomacoast.com.
Rules of etiquette for attending a wine festival:
- Don’t ask how the wine scored—ever.
- Don’t dump wine into the water pitcher. And, always look before you drink out of it.
- Don’t talk about the wine’s “legs” after you swirl the glass. They have nothing to do with wine quality.
- Don’t ask what the most expensive wine on the table is.
- Don’t grab a bottle and help yourself. Wait for someone to serve, or initiate.
- Don’t tether your wine glass to your neck.
- Don’t say, “Give me the biggest thing you have.” This isn’t NASCAR.
- Don’t say “smooth.” Give this wine descriptive the day off from your vocabulary.
- Don’t lick your glass.
- Don’t wear aftershave or perfume, and go light on the lipstick. We’d all rather smell the wines’ aromas, and not see lipstick smudges on glasses.
- Don’t try to impress your date by contradicting the pourer. You are going to fail.
- Don’t proclaim you don’t like white or rosé because the pourer will make fun of you when you walk away.
- Do practice spitting at home. It will come in handy.
- Do say thanks for the pour(s).
- Do drink water, eat some food, and drink responsibly.