It’s a gluttony of riches, and there’s just two days to explore them all. On March 23rd through March 24th some 230 wineries and 65 restaurants will descend upon CenturyLink Field Event Center for The Grand Tasting. You likely can’t taste all 900 Washington wines being poured and every salmon-something-small-plate at Taste Washington, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
When we’re putting together a plan for how to do Taste of Washington, we love to play where’s-Waldo-with-wine. Instead of just running willy nilly down the rows, we like to begin by highlighting producers or varietals we absolutely can’t miss. For example, as she mentioned before, Amanda is a big fan of Two Vintners, which is why she might be inclined to head straight to their table. The trip would be worth it given that Morgan Lee plans to pour his 2016 Grenache Blanc from Yakima Valley, a spring time favorite of Reeds. Which brings up another recommendation: choose a varietal you love—say Viognier—and seek out every winery serving it. (The guide they hand you when walking in the door will list all the wineries and what they are pouring). Ever wondered what the difference between the terroir of Walla Walla and the terroir of Red Mountain? You can let regions go head-to-head at Taste either by looking for single varietals from two different regions and comparing them, or by visiting the designated tasting areas for different viticulture areas and vineyards. You can even get to know a specific plot of soil. For example, this year you can taste Syrah from three different winemakers that is all made with fruit from Upland Vineyards. It makes getting to know a certain Washington AVA rather fun.
Finally, be sure to go early to the wineries you can’t get to easily outside of Taste, such as those without tasting rooms or with tasting rooms you can’t get to easily or often. Betz Family Winery, for example, doesn’t have a tasting room that’s open to the public, but they do typically pour at Taste.
While Taste Washington is mostly about sampling Washington Wines, there come moments when you want nothing more than some bubbles and an oyster. For this reason, we highly recommend finding one of the handful of Washington wineries making sparkling wine—Syncline out of the Gorge, or Karma Vineyards out of Chelan, for example—grabbing a pour, and lining up to taste test Shigokus against Kumamotos.
Go Like A Pro | Quick tips for an expert experience
Nix the Spritz: Anytime you’re going wine tasting it’s best to refrain from wearing perfume or cologne of any sort. The wine’s aroma—and its taste—can get buried under your scent.
Save Sweet for Last: If you can, start with whites, then work your way into reds, saving sweet wines for last. It can be harder to get the full effect of a light, mineral-laden white after you’ve just had a boozy late-harvest syrah, for example.
Grab A Cup to Go: It may seem gauche, but tasting and then spitting the wine can save you from getting bombed. The buckets on the edge of every table are there for just this reason. Even better, grab a to-go cup from one of the coffee stands to use as your own spittoon.