- Posted by CorkNoob
As someone who is new to the wine world, I haven’t actually been to any type of wine fest before. I know, shocking right? So when I recently saw an event called the “WineFestacular”, nearby in the Pittsburgh area, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
This wine fest included a total of 22 booths featuring different wineries and vineyards for wine tasting, along with more than 80 food and shopping vendors from the tri-state area. Food, wine and shopping? What more could a girl ask for?
My boyfriend and I attended thinking it would be a fancy soiree with wine aficionados discussing how they could smell fresh cut juniper and taste rusted wood at each tasting. When we arrived, I discovered that it was a much more chaotic event than expected and there was a long line to receive your bracelet at the front desk. Surprisingly, it was mostly a younger crowd ranging from “just reached drinking age” to “still drinking to binge drink” age, with a sprinkling of middle-aged couples. I was expecting a more experienced group, although the audience could be due to the timeslot we selected, which was the last one of the evening.
There were rows and rows of wine vendors with lines of people waiting for tastings at each booth. We received mini wine glasses for tasting, which I considered dangerous since I was less likely to be able to calculate the amount I was drinking. No wonder this crowd was rowdy.
Fruit Wine Tasting
We started making our way from booth to booth, tasting to tasting. There was a common theme that I immediately noticed. To appeal to the masses, most of the vendors had very sweet, fruit wines. When I say sweet, fruit, I don’t mean decadent dessert grape wines. These were actually wines made from other fruits like blueberries, blackberries and apples. I can see how this would be intriguing to new wine drinkers, they tasted much like the fruit juices you would buy at a grocery store. This was the first time I tried other fruit-based wines. For me, the experience was not really very pleasant. Most of these wines tasted overly sweet and as if they were made from a powdered mix in a mixing bowl instead of from fruit picked off the vine.
The fruit wine tasting inspired me to do a little online research where I discovered that fruit wines are the most common type of wine made at home, which explains the simplicity of it’s taste. I imagine that there is a category of other fruit wines that could be very well made from berries and apples grown in a vineyard similar to grapes, but the types I tasted were definitely not up my alley. Several of the other event attendees seemed to enjoy them, but I wanted to broaden my wine horizons in the grape-wine world instead.
There was also a Meade trend happening among the wineries, which is a honey based wine that I have always wanted to try. This could be due to my addiction to the TV series, Game of Thrones, but that’s neither here nor there. When you think of honey, you think sweet syrup, but most of these Meade wines had a very intense alcohol taste with a small hint of honey.
The jury is still out on Meade wine for me; I may have to try different Meades to see whether or not I dislike this category of wine in general, or if I just do not like the specific Meade that I tried. Overall, it seems I’ll have to try a plethora of different, higher-rated Meade and fruit wines to get a true sense of what I like in these categories. Luckliy, I have absolutely no problem tasting more wine!
Since I am somewhat new to drinking wine, I am just learning about different varietals. What initially triggered my interest in trying more wine was marked by a transformation that occurred when I passed on drinking the cheap boxed wines and Arbor Mist at family functions and tried a Cabernet for the first time a few years ago. Since then, I found that I mostly enjoy dry reds such as Cabernet and Pinot Noir and some dry whites like Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Therefore, my favorites from this wine fest reflect what I typically drink day to day.
After tasting La Vigneta Winery and Mazzotta Winery Sangiovese, I realized this is another varietal I need to add to my go-to list! These were really delicious and had me excited to try more. I also enjoyed Knob Hall Winery and R Wine Cellar’s dry red selections. Lastly, I have to make note of probably my most unexpected favorite Buddy Boy Winery & Vineyard’s Hillbilly Red. They have this really funny wacky label, but their dry reds were seriously good.
I really enjoyed the wine fest. I was able to try an abundance of wines and discover new wines without paying big bucks to buy bottles I may not have liked. I would absolutely go to another wine fest and recommend them to all of my readers. In fact, I have already registered for another local event: Ohiopyle Wine Arts and Music Festival on May 21!
Please note that these are all my own opinions that have been developing over the past couple of years. Everyone has their own taste and different wine preferences. I would highly advise attending a wine fest or tasting, so you can find your favorite wines, too. Cheers!
Have a suggestion for a really tasty Meade or Fruit Wine for the CorkNoob to try? Comment below or tweet us @CorkGuru with #CorkNoob.