In Good Spirit

Fine taste prevails at Food+Wine Festival Palm Desert™



Andre Carthen, kathy ireland, Worldwide Design Ambassador.

GERRY MACEDA

Karen and Richard Motske from Laguna Niguel have been coming to the desert for 30 years, and this was their first stop at the annual Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert™. “We came out specifically for the event and for Michael Green’s seminar,” Richard says.

Green, who spent 19 years as wine and spirits expert for Gourmet magazine, was leading the aptly titled seminar “Grapes and Regions You Probably Don’t Know, But Should” in the big white tent that has become a landmark for Fashion Week El Paseo™.

During the event, wineries were pouring generously and the pace was just short of frenetic, as the crowd seemed bent on tasting every vintage and morsel from more than 100 booths showcasing fine dining, premium wine, champagne, and beer and spirits.

There were long lines for crispy pot stickers from San Diego’s Island Prime, spicy white gazpacho from Cathedral City’s Dish Creative Cuisine, wild mushroom angel hair topped with prime steak from Mastro’s of Palm Desert, and lemon tiramisu from Bellatrix at Classic Club in Palm Desert.

Amped up on caffeine and bursting with enthusiasm, Green promised his seminar would squeeze “20 years of wine education into 30 minutes.” Within the first five of those, he had participants toasting their seatmates, offering their own views of the four wines, and practicing the “Six rules of tasting: See, Swirl, Smell, Sip, Swish, Spit.” This being a casual, convivial crew, there was no spitting and quite a bit of sipping.

Green’s first tip was how to hold a wine glass: “By the stem or base. No cupping, fondling or caressing. Think of it as a Wine HR Manual.”

Another way to judge a wine is its appearance when the glass is tilted to the light against a light background. A pale, barely there color indicates a light taste and a dense, highly pigmented color tells you that the wine will be full-bodied.

“Smell is one of the most important parts of tasting, “ Green told the audience. “Come on, stick your nose all the way into the glass. If you like the smell, you’ll like the taste.” And, a wine will taste very different when it’s sipped with food. To illustrate, tasters were given small wedges of lemon and cheese. The crisp, somewhat acidic white became softer with the lemon and the deep, sultry red took on a fresher personality when its tannin paired with the protein in the cheese.

Ending his seminar, Green sent his merry tasters to discover more wines with a reassuring bit of advice: “With more than 10,000 different types of grape grown across the world, it can be overwhelming, but wine is about making connections and discovering what you like. There is no relation between price and taste. If it tastes good to you, it’s good. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Leaving with their notes, the Motskes had plans to sample a selection of reds. “The list of wineries represented is really impressive,” Richard said. “We’ve added to our collection all day.” For their 1,200-bottle-capacity home wine cellar, Calistoga’s Clos Pagase whites were at the top of the list by noon.

Their favorite food? “Marriott’s Mikado. We ate there last night and it was excellent — and it was just as good at the festival today.”

Bonita Martin and Susan Arnett came from Atlanta specifically to soak up the seminars and find new wines.

“We take trips to Spain and Portugal, and in the states we go to Sonoma and to this festival to learn and have fun,” Bonita said. “We’ve been into fine wines for around 10 years, and we still feel like newcomers in a way. The world of wine just has no limit, and this festival is a real favorite. The food is fabulous. The wines are top level. And we always meet such interesting people. There’s nothing like it in our part of the country.”

Sunday’s first wine seminar, held in a private tent adjacent to the larger venue for food and wine tasting and cooking demos, proved one of the most popular of the event. Iron Horse Winery owner Barrie Sterling and Dish executive chef/owner Joane Garcia Colson offered sparkling wines paired with different foods.

Green, who moderated the seminar, also shared one of his tips on serving wines at their peak: Most Americans serve white wine too cold and red too warm. Take your whites out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving and put your reds in the fridge 15 minutes before serving. When whites warm up a little, they’ll be creamier and softer. Reds that are cooled a little will be more complex and cleaner.”

In separate seminars, Richard Sowelsky of Clos Pegase in Calistoga presented a lively tutorial on “The Four Noble Grape Varieties,” and Jesse Katz of Roth Estate and Lancaster wineries in Sonoma shared his take on the most important A.V.As in California, with “The Beauty of Terroir.” 

Green, With Envy

Michael Green, who served as Gourmet magazine’s wine and spirits expert for 19 years, curated the wine selections for Food+Wine Festival Palm Desert™. “We wanted to expose guests to new things,” he says, “because for some people, wine is about comfort, and for others it is about discovery.”

He made these selections because they are unusual, or off the radar, yet still readily available:

  • Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint, Hungary 2011
  • Pierre Sparr Pinot Blanc, Alsace 2011
  • Gerard-Bertrand Tautavel, S. France 2007
  • Allegrini “Palazzo della Torre,” Veneto 2008

Photography by Gregg Felsen, Gerry Maceda, and Greg Peterson

Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at tmay@palmspringslife.com and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Palm Springs Life

Related Articles

Psst! - Make Them Blush

Whether saying, “Thank you” or “I love you,” pink champagne always sends the right message. Jensen’s Finest Foods’ Chief Sommelier Chris Longo recommends Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé.

Chef Sara Moulton Sweetens Up Celebrity Luncheon

Chef Sara Moulton's engaging style put the finishing touches on the celebrity chef luncheon with a stellar dessert to open Food & Wine Festival Palm Desert.

Chef Luciano Pellegrini Grills Up Quail for Celebrity Luncheon

Chef Luciano Pellegrini gave a Las Vegas touch to the March 22 celebrity chef luncheon to kick off the fourth annual Food & Wine Festival Palm Desert.

Chef Bradley Ogden Tosses Farm Fresh Salad for Luncheon

Chef Bradley Ogden took a colorful assortment of vegetables to create a stunning salad March 22 for nearly 300 guests at the celebrity chef luncheon to kick off the fourth annual Food & Wine Festival Palm Desert.

Promotions + Contests

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couple’s getaway
90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Each month, a first place winner will be selected to win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!And, each month, three additional runners up will be selected to win a wonderful Palm Springs area Dining certificate!
2013/14 Best of the Best

2013/14 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.