Hedonists take note! The 7th annual Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival is around the corner, and you won’t want to miss a drop of this liquid affair for aficionados of grape and grog. Combining its lush natural surroundings with pleasures of the palate, Beaver Creek’s signature summer soiree presented by Wine Spectator magazine invigorates the body and soul while indulging the senses. Yes, it’s time to eat, drink and be merry in the mountains!
Last year’s bash began with a sold-out crowd at a wineglass tasting held by Maximilian Riedel, CEO of Riedel Crystal, the family-owned company that makes wine glasses. In an entertaining delivery, he demonstrated how the shape of the glass makes all the difference in the world when drinking wine. A wine glass is a tool, he said, to unlock the most elusive details of wine. Its bouquet, taste, balance and finish all are affected by the shape of the glass. We experimented by drinking the same wine from three different glasses placed in front of us. Each glass amazingly changed the wine’s taste and properties. Riedel also had us drink from a plastic cup, which rendered the same wines practically devoid of taste. (Note to self: never drink wine from a plastic cup.) Riedel’s tasting tips were well taken and everyone left the seminar adequately informed to taste the rest of the weekend’s offerings. Guests left with the three crystal glasses, a gift from Riedel.
Beer, we learned, also tastes best when swilled from the proper glass, as demonstrated in the Spiegelau Beerglass seminar presented by Doug Reed. Lagers, ales, pales, porters—there’s a glass for that.
Another international wine expert shared her secrets of wine and food pairing in an interactive tasting event. Marnie Old, sommelier and author of Wine Secrets, Advice from Winemakers, Sommeliers and Connoisseurs, discussed the objective patterns to the sensory interaction of wine and food: Match the intensity of the wine to the intensity of the dish; and two similar sensations (like with like) are typically harmonious, not excessive. Like all rules, there are exceptions, which we tested with the food at our place setting. A slice of lemon, a pat of butter, a cube of cheese, a slab of prosciutto, a tomato, nuts, chips and salt helped demonstrate how foods interact with wine. For example, if you put salt on your tongue, then sip dry wine, it will taste sweeter.
This year, the family-owned winery Antinori will put on the wine pairing seminar, likely with its signature Sangiovese wines. The legendary Italian estate has been producing wine since 1385, always with males at the helm. Now Piero Antinori’s three daughters help him run the company and will succeed him in the 600-year-old business.
Those with a sweet tooth will want to attend the Pastries & Port Cooking and Wine Pairing Class, which will teach creative pastry techniques and the best ports for pairing. Premium Port’s Paul Mugnier gives this year’s class.
One of my favorite events of the weekend is called “Walk & Wine.” After all the dining, drinking and digesting, a three-mile morning hike is a welcome respite. Knowledgeable guides from the hiking center lead several ability groups on the ski hill paths. They talk about bears and other critters one might encounter in the Rocky Mountains, as well as berries, bushes and beetles along the trail. Just when you begin to get hunger pangs, they lead you down to a lavish lunch. This year it will be an al fresco farm-to-table spread at the base of Strawberry Park chairlift, an upscale twist to a picnic in the mountains.
Other events on tap are culinary demos, beer and spirits seminars, dinners, Sunday brunch and the opening gathering Margaritas in the Mountains. For a complete schedule and pricing, visit the website, below.
The closing party on Saturday night is the Grand Tasting, a Bacchanalian bash held outside at the Beaver Creek Ice Rink. With the summer harvests just in, the food will be fresh and the wines and cocktails will flow like mountain streams. You fill a glass, you walk, you talk, then stop to sample fare from booths of Beaver Creek restaurants. Then . . . you do it all over again. It’s a delightfully decadent and grand walkabout in one of the most beautiful settings in Colorado.
Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival
August 9-11, 2013
Beaver Creek Resort
Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits - Event Schedule
Friday, August 9
Manhattans in the Mountains, 3-6 p.m.
Kick off the weekend with this new, sophisticated sipping event.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek; $40
Wine Seminar and Cooking Demo, 5-6:15 p.m.
An Italian-themed wine seminar and cooking demo pairs delicious wines with a talented chef in an intimate creek side setting.
Beaver Creek Kitchen Pavilion; $20
Wine & Tapas Social at The Met, 6-8 p.m.
Features a variety of tapas dishes paired with hand selected wines.
The Metropolitan at Beaver Creek; $45
Bright Future Foundation Dinner, 7-10 p.m.
Do good while eating well. Enjoy a four-course dinner paired with the perfect wines while raising money for the Bright Future Foundation.
Spendido at the Chateau, Avon; $130
Saturday, August 11th
Vino Viaggio, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Guests enjoy a hike with guides from the Beaver Creek Hiking Center, winding their way down to the base of the Strawberry Park chairlift for a farm-to-table dinner.
Beaver Creek Mountain; $90
Pastries and Port: Cooking & Wine Pairing Class, 1:30-3 p.m.
Learn pastry techniques and while sampling the perfect ports paired with desserts.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek; $30
Spirits Seminar, 4-5:30 p.m.
Learn what is new, fresh, and fun in the world of cocktails.
By Nature Gallery; $30
Walk-Around Grand Tasting, 7-10 p.m.
Celebrate the height of summer harvests with fresh food tasting and the best wines and cocktails in Beaver Creek Village.
Gerald R. Ford Hall; $75
Sunday, August 11th
Four x Fun at 10,200', 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Ride up the Centennial Chairlift to enjoy a scenic 4x4 mountain tour, private wine garden and picnic at the peak of Beaver Creek Mountain.
Centennial Chairlift to Spruce Saddle; $65
Colorado native Claudia Carbone is an award-winning journalist based in Denver. She covers travel, skiing, performing arts and food & wine for magazines and websites.