Spill the Wine
An Amateur Wine Enthusiast’s Perspective on the Recent National Harbor Wine and Food Festival
When most diners peruse the wine list at their dinner table, they go for what they know. They rely on their past experience enjoying a full-bodied red, or they pick a crisp white, believing that it’s the best choice to pair with seafood. Whatever the case, it’s rare for most to step out of their comfort zone and take a chance on a new glass of wine.
That’s what made last weekend’s Fifth Annual Wine and Food Festival in National Harbor such a special event. Held on May 5 & 6, the festival provided a chance for thousands of participants to expand their palates by tasting dozens of wine varieties and other spirits.
Under a sea of white tents near the Gaylord Resort, wine purveyors such as the Knob Hall Winery of Clear Spring, Maryland, Constellation Wines of New York, and Slack Wine of Ridge, Maryland poured unlimited tastes for festival goers. The event also boasted food samples, liquor tastings and a row of the area’s most sought-after food trucks.
It was like a madhouse for attendees, who were trying to push their tasting glasses under a waiting bottle of wine. Therefore, I won’t give a detailed account of each wine I tasted. Standouts for me were the Fume´ Blanc by Robert Mondavi, provided by Constellation Wines, and a 2007 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon that sells for more than $100 a bottle. The Mondavi wine was wonderfully refreshing and clean tasting, with some citrus notes mixed in. It’s the kind of wine that could make me reconsider my long-standing leaning toward red, dry wines. The Silver Oak wine, quite honestly, didn’t taste any more remarkable to me than any other cabernet I’ve had in the past. Perhaps my uneducated palette is to be blame for me not being floored by this wine…perhaps.
The festival also offered a VIP pier with extra tastings of wine, beer and cuisine. There was a whole hog tasting from Kloby’s Smokehouse in Laurel. Seeing all that luscious pork laid out in front of me was terribly exciting. It was charred as it should be on the outside and tender, juicy on the inside. There was practically no seasoning, which allowed me to taste the pure flavor of the smoked meat.
Eleven Courses from Lutherville-Timonium served up an Angus slider with a blue cheese aioli and a hot dog with blood orange vinaigrette. The meat for this tasting was well done; however, I couldn’t taste the blue cheese or blood orange I was looking for. I tried the delicious sun-dried tomato hummus from Havana Road in Towson. I loved the thick texture, and the underlying heat from the hummus was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. I also tasted the softest, dreamiest chocolate cake from Icing Smiles, which provides celebration cakes for children with illnesses. The cake’s flavor was so good that I wanted to go back for seconds. The cause is so worthy that I’m going to break out my checkbook.
While at the festival, I also visited the Red Hook Lobster Pound food truck, which has gained a great deal of notoriety in the Washington, D.C. area. The Maine lobster roll is filled with quality meat and the bread is nicely toasted. While I wasn’t blown away, I’d say that it was a good sandwich.
In the end, I left the festival with all its wine, beer and bourbon in a lighter mood, which should come as no surprise to anyone.