Inaugural Pacific Wine & Food Classic Is A Summer Mainstay

I am smitten with the new Pacific Wine & Food Classic, which debuted Aug. 18 and 19 in Newport’s Back Bay. Though it was an inaugural event, the experience was incredibly charming and memorable.

FOOD | Phenomenal. In fact, it outdid the wine. All too often, wine-tastings have log piles of dry bread and sweaty cheese that hungry participants scarf down. Here, the tables were top-notch with a bevy of tasty choices and happy foodies chatting in line for their next bite.

WINE | While the food tables featured chefs, business cards, and flyers, the wine tables were manned by staff members who poured like robots wearing smiles. They didn’t have answers for most of the questions asked them, such as vintage, price, and where to purchase. That said, here are a few tasty discoveries worthy of a revisit or purchase.

  • Ferrari Brut Sparkling Wine NV This Italian sparkler took the edge off the Taco Rosa spicy salsa and is just delicious.
  • Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rose 2016 Clean, classic rose from Provence.
  • Sofia Brut Rose Sparkling I’ve never tried Sofia wines before, but the rep kept selling it as “so much less sweet than the Blanc de Blancs” and “easier to enjoy with the food.” She was right… and when I went to revisit two hours later, it was all gone.
  • Bouchaine Vin Gris of Pinot Noir 2016 and Bouchaine Estate Pinot Meunier 2015 This Carneros vineyard was pouring a slate of wines, but these two stood out for me. The team was very knowledgeable and friendly.
  • Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 A great hearty Napa cab from Howell Mountain, which we paired with the meaty food bites.
  • Silver Totem Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 I love Horse Heaven Hills AVA cabs.

SAND | It was fun that several of the booths were directly on the Back Bay sand, sealing in the authentic Orange County vibe. We sat on the sand to chat, eat, and sip. I saw my first jumping fish and became obsessed with finding others. (Next day, Google search taught me this is the Silver Mullet Fish.)

SPIRITS AND BEER | Once we’d tried all the good wine, and passed on wines not up our alley— Layer Cake and Keaton—we had a ball drinking tasty cocktails from Maker’s Mark and Absolut. We cleansed our palates with a cold lager, too. The variety of alcohol choices was a plus for diverse palates.

Though the wines weren’t all that impressive, there were enough diamonds in the rough that worked beautifully with the fabulous bites, and the event was well-designed and well-executed with short lines and a friendly crowd. Change the background music (it was of bad dentist ilk), buff up the wine options, and have wine people pour the wine. A few tweaks and I expect the Pacific Wine & Food Classic will be a mainstay festival for many Orange County summers.

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