Washington State is the second largest premium wine producer in the United States. There are currently (as of March 2016) more than 890 wineries in the state. With that many top producers, it’s no wonder an event like the Taste Washington Grand Tasting, held annually at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle, draws in over 225 wineries and 70 restaurants prepared to showcase their talents. If you’ve ever tackled a culinary event like this, you know that you can’t go into the event without a proper game plan. Whether you’re only going for one day of the two-day event, or you plan to see and do it all, you’ll need a strategy that includes a lot of sipping and spitting. Here are 10 easy tips that will help you navigate Taste Washington.
- You will be given a commemorative glass and a plastic plate with a slot to stow your wine glass. It’s very handy.
- Go on Sunday. The booths and the aisles will be less crowded, giving you time to ask questions and talk with your favorite producers.
- Get there early. The doors open at 2 p.m., but the lines start forming at least 40 minutes before. While the line moves quickly, if you want to make the most of your time at the event, be in line by 1:30 p.m.
- Make a game plan. Circle the things you don’t want to miss in your program and only visit those booths. If you have time at the end, hit up additional booths. If you really want enough time to experience everything, and maybe even catch a chef demonstration, you have to go both days.
- You obviously cannot try all of the wine being poured, so make a plan. Choose new wineries, varietals you’re most interested in, and if there’s time, retry some favorites.
- Plan to pour out a lot of wine. The winery reps are not offended when you take a sip and pour. There are pour buckets at every booth for this reason.
- Wineries notoriously bring special wines with them, usually to pour for their colleagues, but if you ask nicely, they might let you try it as well.
- Some vendors hand out stuff. Pick up any free gifts you’re eyeing at the beginning, because they go fast.
- Keep a good pace or you won’t stand a chance to making it all the way around. After each hour, we evaluate our progress and determine if we can slow down or if we need to speed up.
- Don’t bring anything with you. A small shoulder bag to put handouts and freebies in will suffice. Everything else is extraneous.
The Grand Tasting event is being held April 2-3 from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. at CenturyLink Field Event Center. Tickets can be purchased for one or two days and cost $90 and $140 respectively. VIP tickets that allow a 1-hour early admission are also available. See the Taste Washington official site for more information. The event also features specialty food areas, cooking demonstrations and educational seminars led by top chefs and sommeliers.