Returning for its 10th year, the Philadelphia Wine Festival, held on Saturday, May 7, is the biggest and best wine event in the city and the only one of its kind in our region. A partnership between Philadelphia Magazine and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the event draws hundreds of wineries as well of hundreds of attendees in pursuit of delightful sips and tasty bites. This year was no exception, with over 200 wineries sharing generous pours of their blends and prized reserves.
Held at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, the event kicked off with a VIP hour offering rare samples from wineries representing every corner of the globe. Starting off on the light, effervescent side, we worked our way around the globe with bubbles in mind.
Tasters all around the room were impressed with sparkling wines such as La Marca Prosecco from E&J Gallo Winery, Ferrari Brut and Freixenet Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut. Luckily, we stopped to sample Riondo Prosecco from Riondo USA, which was surprisingly pink in color and the perfect start to a warm spring evening. Each little sip brought about a new wistful food pairing, as the wine would have been perfect with oysters, scallops, bright summer salads and fresh fruit. Truly a delightful find!
In the land of the whites, the usual suspects like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio played second fiddle to interesting blends like Muscadet from the western end of the Loire Valley and Viognier from the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley. Bright, crisp and refreshing, the whites around the room gave the reds and bubbles a run for their money. Perfectly paired with a selection of cheese from Tweed and creamy mushroom risotto from 13 Restaurant, our white wine-infused trip around the globe evoked daydreams of al fresco dining and summer days on a Parisian terrace.
Moving on to darker shades, it was hard to deny the allure of Francois Lurton’s offerings. Their best was the 2008 Hacienda Araucano Clos de Lolol, with its blackberry and dark cherry fruit, soft body and elegant finish. One of the better wines of the night, it’s delightful to note that bottles are reasonably priced and available at PA state stores. Matched up against seared steak and mushrooms from The Capital Grille, this was one of the wines that stole the show. Ethos from Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Vineyards and a spicy Carmenere by J. & F. Lurton in Chile rounded out our favorite selections from the night.
If you missed out this lip-smacking good time with great wine and don’t want to wait for next year to catch a buzz, fear not as there are other wine festivals in the area coming soon! The 6th Annual Brandywine “Big Bang” BBQ runs from July 2-4 and offers a fun wine and BBQ outing on the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail. And the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival runs from July 28-31 this year with celebrity chefs to meet and world class wines to sample. Go ahead and do some grape grazing this summer—and be sure to seek out a pink Prosecco!
View more scenes from the wine festival by clicking here.