According to Lisa Rigisich, who with her husband Steve, founded the Pinot Days wine festival, there is nothing worse that a pundit spouting off about what a pinot noir wine should and shouldn’t be.
“I think it’s dangerous when pundits do that,” Rigisich said. “Then the winemaker’s not saying what’s best for the grapes in this year on this land.”
The Los Angeles Pinot Days festival starts on Thursday, Jan. 26, with some smaller events around town. But the big one is the Grand Tasting on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.
Rigisich wants to make it very clear that just because the festival is all about the pinot noir grape, which comes in for some serious snootiness, the festival is anything but snooty. Geeky, perhaps, but it’s about the joy and the fun of wine.
“Pinot noir has gotten this reputation as being sophisticated and people have gotten intimidated,” Rigisich said. “The wines are very sophisticated… But we’re not about the fancy room and wearing an ascot.”
The whole point of the festival is bring every day people out to try and find which pinot noirs they like and to meet the winemakers, most of whom will be pouring.
The Grand Tasting is $60 per person, but when you consider how much you might spend on tastings, driving all over the Carneros Valley or even the Santa Rita Hills, it’s not so bad, especially considering how many wineries you’ll be able to connect with. Also, you’ll have the rare chance to actually talk to a lot of the winemakers, themselves, which is insanely cool.
If you’ve never done a tasting event like this, or even if you have, here are some things you may want to keep in mind:
- Dress comfortably – you’ll be on your feet for a long time, and this is not a fancy dress affair. You may want to wear dark clothes, though. Red wine stains are a pain to get out.
- There will be bread and cheese and water at the event – consume those liberally. In fact, you may want to eat a hearty lunch before you even get there.
- This is a great opportunity to try something new. If you think you only like red wines and there’s a rosé there, give it a whirl. It’s not going to cost you any more and you might find something you really, really like.
- It’s okay to spit the wine out after you taste it. In fact, it’s encouraged. The winemakers are not going to think you don’t like their wine. We promise. If you grimace and go blech as you spit, that’s different. But if you’re going to maximize your tasting, you’ll have to spit just to stay standing. There are usually plastic cups around for just this purpose. Nor should you feel obligated to taste all the wine that’s in your glass – that’s what the dump buckets are for. Use them.
- Have fun. Yes, there’s a lot of geeky talk about clones going on. You can either listen to it and expand your knowledge or blow it off. It’s all about the wine and how it tastes to you.
Seriously, Rigisich doesn’t want people put off by all the fancy schmancy talk. Nor should you be. An event like this is about educating yourself – exploring what you like and don’t like. So give it a whirl.
Better yet, Rigisich gave us a coupon code you can use when you go to the site to order tickets: GRAPESC12. This will get you a 10 percent discount on your tickets to the Grand Tasting, and we’d love it if you used it.