I spent a few hours enjoying the 2010 Golden Glass Tasting at Fort Mason Center with my SO today. It was an easy sell -- buy a ticket for an event that benefits slowfood SF, and get to taste wine and nibble on various artisanal and handcrafted treats? Clearly it was up my alley. And the half priced tickets through bloomspot sealed the deal.
Having been to many wine events at Fort Mason Center, I was struck by how relatively uncrowded the event was. Yes, we had to wait in a 10-person line for claiming our will call tickets, but we were able to easily get up to the tables without anyone shoving us out of their way, and easily caught the eye of those pouring the wine. We even had the opportunity to talk to some of the winemakers and chefs in attendance.
Too often at these events, I feel like a salmon swimming upstream, and feel like I've escaped with my life at the end of a tasting. Today on the other hand, I got to enjoy the food and wine, and be leisurely in making a pass around the floor. I would love it if someone could figure out a way how to retain that sort of a feel in these tastings, while still making the event seem like a good expenditure of time and money for the participating vendors.
Highlights of What We Tasted
Unlike you typical wine tasting which offer up a little bit of bread and possibly some cheese, this event had a number of artisan food purveyors and chefs on hand, which gave you the opportunity to do some food and wine pairings.
- Perfect crust on the flour+water summer squash pizza, complete with a nice dark blister. They had a wood fired pizza oven out front in the bed of a pickup to make these delicacies. Really need to try to eat dinner there soon.
- Serpentine and slow club shared a table and had perhaps the tastiest treat of the day -- sliders of roasted pork shoulder with pickled strawberry jam and arugula. Not a combination I would have come up with but perfect as a hand-held taste. It makes me want to start making some pickled jams myself, even if it's just pickled onion jam.
- A16 had some tender pulled pork on a substantial hunk of baguette. A moist and delicious pork product.
- The abundance of Italian-inspired food, and the tables of Italian wines already had my brain ready for a vacation even before I had the tiny square of cheese with a drizzle of honey from Marcelli Formaggi. But I am pretty sure I started babbling about how we needed another trip there soon after consuming that amazing honey.
San Francisco was having an unusually warm day (80s), which meant I tasted a lot more whites than usual. And I just could not bring myself to try some wines that looked great (I'm thinking about those amarones) because the heat made the prospect of most red wines seem daunting. That said, my three favorite wines of the day were all reds.
- Navarro's 2007 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir was my hands-down favorite. I know when I think pinot noir I often think of a substantial wine that needs a hearty dinner to go alongside it, not a sipping wine. But I'd happily drink this lighter than average pinot while cooking dinner. Their dry gewurtztraminer was also superb.
- At the next table over, Handley's 2007 Anderson Valley pinot noir was another lighter pinot noir stunner. Not that I was surprised since I've been a huge fan of theirs for some time. Unfortunately, they didn't bring along their sparkling wine -- it would have been perfect today.
- Although I'd done some wine tasting in southern Italy, I hadn't really looked into seeing if the greater Venice area, where I spent half of my last trip to Italy, had wineries to visit. But after having Nicolis' SECCAL valpocella DDC CLassico Superiore, you can BET I am going to look into arranging a private tour next time.
What Could be Improved for Next Year
I do wonder, however, if the lack of signage at Fort Mason was a factor in the sparse attendance. Even I got nervous I'd written down the wrong date on my calendar and pulled out my ticker confirmation to check. The 2-day crystal fair had a few signs up, and the Warhammer 2000 tournament was an easy to stumble upon beehive of activity. But the Golden Glass tasting was at the Center's far corner, and without any signs letting you know it was there until you actually got up to it. I have to think that on a gorgeous day like today, in the 80s, signage throughout Fort Mason Center would have generated some significant foot traffic for them.
Something else I'd love to see is use of those little reusable plates that hook on to your wine glass. Why do I mention this? Because a volunteer/staffer at the event went calling after me as I walked my used plate to the compost bin. I'd used the same plate at two stands, and needed to free up my hand for my wine. I'm actually *not* coordinated enough to carry and eat a plate of food and a glass of wine. At home we have a teeny garbage can + a huge recycle can and a handy compost bucket. I don't drive. I am limiting my carbon footprint! And thus, I don't want an event volunteer giving me a hard time about ditching my used plate (as an aside, I didn't use another plate at all for the event.)
And finally, slow food events need to get over the little food tickets. No one wants to spend $70 per ticket (full price ticket cost) to get in and receive 5 food tickets, then have to pay another $20 for 5 more tickets for a few more tastes. It was one of my primary annoyances with the slowfood nation tasting here a couple summers ago. None of the food stalls would accept them because clearly they felt the same way as well. Please don't nickel and dime us when we are there in support of this cause we all feel passionate about!
P.S. If you're wondering about the lack of photos from today's event, that's due to my grabbing my small camera at the last second and not checking its batteries. First time in all my years of writing about this stuff that I've made that error, and hopefully will be the last time as well.