Food & Wine Festival Palm Desert 2013 Tips

Many of my friends are now appreciating the finer things in life like wine.  I’m not totally in the dark as I’ve watched Sideways, been to Napa for wine tasting, and know some reds and whites.  However, I want to further ferment my inner sommelier.  Thankfully Greater Palm Springs provides some great tips for anyone wanting to hit the upcoming Food & Wine Festival Palm Desert.


For three extraordinary days of culinary and wine exploration the Food & Wine Festival Palm Desert returns.


From March 22-24, 2013, Greater Palm Springs is bringing the brightest and most inspired chefs from California and putting them under The Big White Tent On Larkspur—between El Paseo And Shadow Mountain in Palm Desert, CA.


Benefitting The Friends Of the James Beard Foundation, The Culinary Institute Of America’s Endowed Scholarship Fund And Les Dames d’Escoffier, the Festival will feature Gourmet magazine’s spirits expert Michael Green, “MasterChef” finalists Alejandra Schrader and Sharone Hakman, Sean Kanan from ABC’s “General Hospital,” San Diego celebrity chef Deborah Scott, and many more.


In preparation, here are a couple of quick tips on making the best of the festival by always optimizing your food and wine pairings.


First, let’s define the components of wine.


Fruit Varietal – the type of grape used

Sugar – level of sweetness; determined by the type of grape and its ripeness

Alcohol – determined by the length of the fermentation process

Acid – occurs naturally in fruit; varies by type of grape

Tannin – level of astringency in fruit; varies by type of grape


All wines contain these five components, but the type of grape or blend of grapes used overwhelmingly influences the flavor of any wine. White grapes make white wine. Red grapes make red wine. Different types of grapes will give you different flavors and a number of factors — where the grape was grown, when it was picked, the length of fermentation, steel vs. oak barrels — all play their part. However, none are so singularly important as the grape itself. So, how do you apply this knowledge to making smart food-wine decisions?


Food and Wine Pairing Tips


1. Get saucy.

In most cases, a great sauce unites food and wine. Find a great sauce to connect the two.

Example: Pasta with Alfredo sauce and Chardonnay


2. Keep it sweet.

A general rule of thumb is to keep the wine sweeter than the food. With most sweet desserts, for example, you’ll want to go with a sweet white or port wine.

Example: Vanilla cake and Ice Wine


3. Make a toast to salt.

Dry sparkling wines, like brut Champagne, go well with salty foods.

Example: Olives and Champagne


4. Wine makes bitter, more bitter.

Avoid pairing bitter (high tannin) wines with bitter foods. Bitter wines will multiply the bitterness of the food. When drinking high tannin wines, look for foods with fat or salt to make the best coupling.

Example: Rib eye And Syrah


5. A lot of acidity loves a lot of richness.

High‐acid wines like Sauvignon Blanc Or Muscadet go best with rich and creamy sauces or fried foods.

Example: Fried springrolls and Sauvignon Blanc


6. Spice it up, and drink a Riesling.

Spicy foods can make high-alcohol wines taste hotter, so opt for something lower in alcohol with a touch of sweetness.

Example: Spicy Thai Or Chinese dishes with Riesling.


7. Keep it simple.

If you have a special or vintage bottle of wine, don’t dilute the flavor of the wine with a complex food pairing. Opt for a simple dish with few ingredients to spotlight the taste.


8. You’ve done well when you enjoy both.

A successful match means you can distinguish the individual flavors in both the food and wine.


9. When in doubt, choose a Pinot Noir.

It’s one of the most versatile wines and won’t offend with most food pairings.


10. Be yourself.

Most food and wine pairings are going to be just fine. There are a few combinations that will truly highlight flavors, and there are few combinations that will truly offend. Choose based on your personal tastes, and have a good time.


General suggestions for best pairings:


Vegetables – Dry White

Fish – Sweet Whites

Cheese – most Whites and bold Reds

Starches – any White or Red

Meats – any Reds

Sweets – Sherry or Port


The blacklist. These foods don’t pair well with any wine:




Green beans

Brussel sprouts

Egg yolks


Can’t Make the Food & Wine Festival Palm Desert This March? You can still enter to win a Greater Palm Springs vacation package and experience a taste of Southern California’s premiere oasis destination for yourself.


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