Wine Spectator brings massive wine-tasting event to DC

MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Eleanor Red Wine on display during Fontainebleau Miami Beach Presents Wine Spectator's Best Of The Best Sponsored By Bank of America during 2016 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival Presented By FOOD & WINE at Fontainebleau Miami Beach on February 26, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for SOBEWFF®)

WASHINGTON One of the largest wine consumer events in the country is coming to D.C. on April 20. Wine Spectator’s Grand Tour is an unforgettable wine-tasting experience that features more than 200 of the world’s finest wineries pouring their best bottles.

Attendees can sample exceptional wines and make new friends while mingling with top winemakers and estate owners from the world’s best wine-growing regions.

WTOP wine columnist Scott Greenberg recently interviewed Thomas Matthews, executive editor of Wine Spectator, about the event.

Greenberg: How many people do you expect to attend this year?
Matthews: We have room for 1,000 attendees and we expect to be near or at capacity this year.

Greenberg: What can attendees expect to find at the Grand Tour?
Matthews: It is the cream-of-the-crop of the wine world, with 15 countries and five states represented. To be eligible for the event, each wine offered must score at least 90 points or higher as judged by the Wine Spectator staff. This is really a great opportunity to learn about wine and enjoy the evening.

Greenberg: What is your favorite part of Grand Tour?
Matthews: I love meeting the wine lovers every wine lover brings something new to the event, and I learn something new every time from consumers who go deep on certain wines or explore particular wine regions. People are passionate about wine. It’s not like going to a car show; there is so much variety and diversity offered in wine. And there is so much to learn from the people pouring the wine at the event, which is a mix of producers, winemakers and distributors, each with a tremendous amount of knowledge.

Greenberg: With 244 wines samples, it will be impossible to taste everything, so what strategies do you have to get a good overview?
Matthews: I have two strategies. The first is to approach the event like a dinner party. Start with Champagne or sparkling wine and move on to a lighter white wine, then a richer white wine. Then progress on to a lighter red, and then finish with some of the richer red wines.

The second strategy is to take a regional or varietal approach. For example, there will be 58 wines from Italy and more than 20 different types of pinot noir from around the world. Pick a country and go deep, or chose a specific varietal and explore how they differ from each growing region.

Greenberg: How should one navigate the event?
Matthews: The whole list is available on the Wine Spectator website. I would suggest printing the list out and circling the wines you want to sample. Be organized in your approach at the event. Personally, I think it is reasonable to sample about 30 wines over the course of the evening. Remember to spit, drink responsibly and always have a designated driver or car service to get you home safely.

Greenberg: Are there any specific categories you would recommend attendees start with and end the evening with?
Matthews: I think it’s always good to start with sparkling wines, like the Nonvintage Louis Roederer Brut Champagne Premier (rated 92 points). It’s a great way to get your palate ready for the rest of the evening. I also like the idea of ending with dessert wines, like Port. We have a lot of terrific Port wines. For example, Adriano Ramos Pinto Tawny Port 30 Year Old (rated 95 points), or the 2011 Croft Vintage Port (rated 97 points).

My particular area that I am responsible for at the magazine is Spanish wines. We will have 29 different Spanish wines from all over the country, including sparkling, white, red and dessert wines. So, if you want to make me happy, definitely try some of the wines from Spain.

Greenberg: And the cost of the event?
Matthews: 7 p.m. general admission tickets are $225. There are a limited number of VIP tickets that will get you in an hour earlier and cost $325. With over 224 wines on the docket, that’s less than a dollar a glass. In addition, all wines have been rated 90 points or higher by Wine Spectator. There will also be a buffet to complement your wine, and all attendees will receive a souvenir Riedel tasting glass.

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