Wining and dining at the Winter Wine Festival

Dena Miller
Posted 1/30/20

Super Bowl weekend gets a bit cozier and a lot merrier when the Taos Winter Wine Festival (TWWF) kicks off its annual event.  Now in its 34th year, the Festival returns with its celebration of fine local foods paired with offerings from some of the most renowned national and international wineries.

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Wining and dining at the Winter Wine Festival

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Super Bowl weekend gets a bit cozier and a lot merrier when the Taos Winter Wine Festival (TWWF) kicks off its annual event.  Now in its 34th year, the Festival returns with its celebration of fine local foods paired with offerings from some of the most renowned national and international wineries.

On Thursday (Jan. 30) the Festival here in town propels into high gear at The Sagebrush Inn and Suites, 1508 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, with two tasting events.  

This is the first year that the Sagebrush is hosting a festival event and Elena Dumond, the hotel’s sales and catering manager, hopes this is the beginning of a long relationship with TWWF.  “We’re pleased to be a part of this, partnering with the many wonderful boutique restaurants here in the region and providing a venue to showcase so many fine wines,” she said.

From 4:00-5:00 p.m. join Michael Bassler of North Berkeley Wines to experience four rarified Jean Vesselle Champagnes from the French Bouzy region.  These “eloquent examples” will be featured alongside caviar and blinis presented by Chef Louis Moskow of 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar, a traditional and contemporary French eatery in Santa Fe.  Tickets for this event are $45.

The evening continues at the Sagebrush with a Taste of Taos and Reserve Tasting from 5:00-7:30 p.m.  40 wineries, showcasing over 150 wines, will have their reserve selections represented, while a dozen of the best local restaurants will offer their signature appetizers alongside.  Dumond also noted that Sagebrush’s Executive Chef Wooldridge has several surprises up his sleeve, as do students of the Taos High School culinary arts program, who will be cooking up some magic of their own.

Between all of the luscious bites tempting you and those sips of red or white (or both), you’ll enjoy the high-energy music of Jackson Price and the Blues Rockets.  Taos favorites for several years, the band recently released its first album.  Dumond also noted there will be a silent auction benefitting the high school’s culinary program.  

Tickets are $95 per person.  Both Sagebrush events are over-21.  Please visit holdmyticket.com or call (575) 758-2254 for further information.

There’s no doubt that TWWF generates a lot of buzz in Taos but, amid the many ticketed tasting events that are part of this weekend, you’ll also find a myriad of special wine dinners scheduled at restaurants throughout town.

Consider the Friday offering (Jan.31) at Medley, 100 SR 150.  Owner/chef Wilks Medley and his wife, Colleen, have concocted a mouthwatering five-course menu for pairing with Vietti wines hailing from Castiglione Falleto in the Piedmont region of Italy.  

The meal begins with marinated artichoke hearts dressed with hand-cut tarragon and ricotta salata, and continues with a prosciutto and potato crocchette with a pecorino bechamel and olive puree; a polipetti (baby octopus) braised with tomatoes, balsamic, lemon and crispy garlic; a pork belly and tenderloin porchetta with celeriac and caramelized fennel puree, and served with local greens.  Your dinner finishes with zeppole with caramelized peach and house-made ricotta.

“Next to the great Italian wines of Vietti, it was a natural that our menu would trend the same way,” said Medley, noting the pairings with roero, dolcetto, barbera, barolo, and moscato, respectively.  The prix fixe dinner has one seating at 6:00 p.m., and is $105 per person, plus tax and gratuities.  Call (575) 776-8787 for reservations or more information.

Doc Martin’s Restaurant at the Historic Taos Inn likewise has an outstanding menu for your Friday dining pleasure, which will be paired with a selection of French wines presented by Charles Neal Distributors.

After passed hors’ doevres selected by Executive Chef Nite Marquez, you will enjoy seared scallops with local King Bolete mushrooms and a fois gras emulsion, followed by  a rabbit lasagna with a green chile and cilantro crema.  After the intermezzo of herbed champagne sorbet, you’ll be treated to wine-braised Pueblo bison short ribs with an apricot and green chile demi-glace, served with a potato and horseradish puree.  Your dessert--the Marquise: an intensely dark chocolate mousse wrapped in pastry--will send you home just as intensely satiated.

There’s one seating at 6:00 p.m. and it’s $100 per person, plus tax and gratuities.  Please call (575) 758-1977 for information or reservations.

Then, there’s Common Fire, 88 SR 150, whose approach to the wine dinners isn’t sit down but, rather, stand up.

“We are hosting ‘Loud Wine Parties,’” said Andy Lynch, owner/chef of the restaurant.  After leaving the Sagebrush on Thursday, importer Michael Bassler will head to Common Fire and join Lynch from 8:00-9:30 p.m. to co-host “Italy is Wine.”  Then, on Friday (Jan.31) the California winemaker Steve Matthiasson will be on hand from 6:30-8:00 p.m.  Named the 2014 Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, Matthiasson will introduce you to a variety of his award-winning wines.

“Come to meet and socialize with these experts, along with your friends. You’ll have a great selection of wines to sample, and we’ll have enough well-matched food that you definitely won’t leave hungry,” Lynch promises.  Tickets for these nights are $60 each, and include tax and gratuities.  See more details at taoscommonfire.com.

Everything going on can’t possibly be covered here, so it’s recommended you go to taoswinterwinefest.com, check it out and, most of all, enjoy the weekend.

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