We happened to land on Hilton Head Island in time for the Hilton Head Wine & Food Festival, which ran March 11-17. There were several events all week long including tastings, a cooking class, wine seminars, and brunch on the final day. We looked at the schedule, and the prices, and chose to attend the Public Tasting which was held on the 16th at Harbour Town in Sea Pines Resort.
The tents were set up near the marina at the resort, and we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. The food part of the festival took place on a small stage where the chefs gave demonstrations and shared their dishes with the audience. There were about twenty wine tents where guests could taste a variety of offerings from each winery or distributor.
The Tasting Plan
Our plan of attack was to start with the rosés and white wines, take a break for lunch, then move on to the red wines. There were several wines that we were familiar with and had tasted before, and many others that were new to us including some from other countries. Some of the tents were offering wines from one winery specifically, while others included different wines brought in by the distributor. A select few were available for purchase.
When attending a large tasting, it is important to follow these simple guidelines:
- Pace yourself – you don’t want to drink too much too soon or you won’t make it very far.
- Actually taste – sip enough to get the flavor then pour the rest out.
- Don’t expect to taste everything – with 250+ wines available, you have to pick and choose.
- Make sure to eat something – we all know drinking on an empty stomach doesn’t work well.
- Know when to stop – after a while your palette will dull and tasting just becomes drinking.
Finding Some Gems
We enjoyed tasting wines that we haven’t had in a while – King Estate Pinot Gris, Klinkerbrick Zinfandel, Rombauer Chardonnay and Zinfandel, The Prisoner, and Walt Pinot Noir. Top favorites in our never-tasted-before category were international wines. The 2017 Trivento “White Orchid” Torrontes ($12) from Argentina was our pick for best white. It was a nice, light blend of floral and fruit that would go well with spicy food. Our red pick was the 2016 Cesari “Mara” Valpolicello Superiore Ripasso ($20). We like a good Valpolicella with pizza. Speaking of pizza, our lunch was a margherita pizza from Sprout Momma’s Rolling Oven. They brought their brick oven to the event!
We had fun! Isn’t that all that really matters? It’s always nice to try new wines and revisit old favorites. Reminiscing about how our wine adventure started, all those years ago, we see how our palettes have evolved and expanded. We also know pretty definitively what we want and don’t want from a wine. And we still feel we are advanced amateurs, as Jim always says; and we want to continue to learn more about this thing for which we have such passion. If you find yourself near Hilton Head in March, make sure to attend the Hilton Head Wine & Food Festival.