Friday, March 23, 2012

Plan of Attack: Taste Washington Strategies

Taste Washington is a wine tasting extravaganza and it's not for the faint of heart. With 200 Washington wineries in attendance, this is serious tasting business. Multiply the number of wineries (200) by the average number of wines each table will pour (2 or 3) and the numbers start to get serious. What's clear is that this is perhaps the greatest wine tasting event in the free world and given that the un-free world probably doesn't have any wine tastings, maybe just the world. I already mentioned the 200 wineries, but there's also an oyster bar, a desert bar, beer, coffee, an incredible array of some of Washington's finest chefs and restaurants and chef demonstrations.

What all of this means, however, is that you would be ill-advised to show up at Taste Washington without a plan; you would be eaten alive. Didn't you read the previous paragraph? It's serious. Here's the thing, it's a week out and you need a game plan if you're going to do this right. Luckily for you, we're here to help.

The best way to approach Taste Washington is to have a strategy. I would hazard a guess and say that you're not very strategic. I mean, maybe you do okay, but you're not as strategic as, say, a General. My point being there's a lot of military history, you're busy, let's just borrow what's worked well for them. You're far from Sun Tzu and General Patton; you're more a General Tso's than anything. So, ladies and germs we bring you the Anthem Military Strategy Guide to Taste Washington:

-Blitzkrieg: German for "Lightning war" is the use of speed, maneuvering and the shock of sudden attack at an enemies fortifications. It was often thought of as a mechanized war maneuver. Since tanks are frowned upon in the CenturyLink Event Center (if not outright illegal), we've pared it down considerably. Basically, the Taste Washington Blitzkrieg has you just drinking Germanic varietals. I count 26 of them from just the website. Largely these are Rieslings with a handful of Gewurztraminers. Some notable producers include a Riesling from Cote Bonneville, the always fantastic Riesling from O-S, one from Washington's newest AVA, Naches Heights Vineyards, and one I'm dying to try from Figgins Family.

-Scorched Earth: typically the military strategy by which a force goes about destroying anything that might be of use to the enemy, including roads, bridges, food sources etc. Because this is a wine tasting and not an actual attack on anyone, we're going to change it up. Go after the high alcohol wines or "hot" wines, (get it? 'scorched'). Approach each table and ask, "I'd like to try your highest ABV wines." Or you could simply say "if it's below 15% then I ain't drinking it." You will absolutely get strange looks and will likely be drinking a lot of Zinfandels and Primitivos but with alcohol percentages creeping up you'll also likely be drinking several of the Bourdeaux varietals and sadly some Syrah as well. The thing is, there are some really well made wines with higher alcohol percentages where the high alcohol is so well integrated that it's damn near imperceptible. While on its face this seems like a bit crazy, it'll give you a sense of how Washington is dealing with its rising alcohol issue. I highly recommend that you spit.

The Flying V: a strategy developed by perhaps one of the greatest minds of warfare, Alexander the Great. When times were simpler and people fought hand-to-hand, this tactic was used to push into enemy lines. People would form into the shape of a V or wedge and force their way through enemy fortifications. In our version, again, no violence: you're only drinking Viognier. Lucky for you Washington produces some of the most beautiful examples of Viognier in the New World and arguably anywhere. In this strategy we're also allowing White Rhone blends that include Viognier. My count includes 10 such wines being poured. In particular, I'd love to take a gander at that V Neck Viognier from our friends at El Corazon Winery.

Tactical Positioning: from Sun Tzu's timeless classic The Art of War comes the concept of defending existing positions until one is capable of advancing. The Taste Washington version of this is to stick to the varietals that you know you love. If you love Merlot, Miles be damned, then try as many Merlots as you can get your hands on. If you're a big fan of Washington Syrah
(and why wouldn't you be?), then go ahead and stick to Syrah. While staying comfortable is nice don't forget the "advancing" component. If you love Syrah, try some Grenache and Mouvedre as well, stretch your legs a little.

Shock & Awe: is the last and least recommended approach. One may go about this approach by drinking as much wine as possible, exhibiting boorish behavior until everyone around is thoroughly shocked. Don't be that guy.

At the end of the day, Taste Washington is great opportunity to sample some of the best wines in Washington State. Many of the people pouring at the event made those wines they're pouring you. Talking to the winemakers, the winery staff and the many guests and you might be talking to Bob Betz or Dick Boushey. Learn what makes Washington special and certainly, don't miss out on the oyster bar.


"The Flying V: a strategy developed by perhaps one of the greatest minds of warfare, Alexander the Great."

The genius behind the Flying V was Gordon Bombay I believe. Great post though!

Thanks for the mention of our new Riesling! I hope you liked it.

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