SANTA FE, N.M. — If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain … then maybe this was not your event! (Try Mexico in May.) But if 99 bottles of wine on the wall is more your style, you’ll have come to the right place!
The Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta poured about 5,000 bottles of wine Saturday afternoon at The Grand Tasting at the Opera, all from 90 illustrious wineries from all over this country and beyond, like Chile, Australia, New Zealand, France and Spain. All those sips went with nibbles from 69 restaurants “from around here.”
Alternating booths – have a sip, have a bite. Move on to other booths – have another sip, a new bite. It’s a perfect, sunny, crisp autumn afternoon! So how about a crisp nip of Sauvignon Blanc and a perfect green chili mini tuna tartare taco!? A splash of rosé and a decadent little profiterole before sampling a merlot with the veal and porcini ravioli. Yeah, the order doesn’t matter. It’s a festive festival fiesta atmosphere in shady ribbons of tents under the big blue sky, looking out at the Sangres from the Opera grounds with Manzanares’ catchy live music wafting on the breeze, and acres of really special food and beverage surrounding us. (Good people-watching, too!)
Some 2,500 tickets were sold and 3,500 attended. So 1,000 snuck in. Just kidding. Those 1,000 people volunteered, poured wine, served food and prevented people from sneaking in! We were at the entrance gate line that got us a handshake and a welcome greeting from Mayor Alan Webber, then our hand stamp and an etched souvenir Riedel wine glass and a sampling plate. You know these glasses are ergonomically designed to elicit the maximum perfection from the grape – the nose, the flavor, the punch! And it’s yours to keep with the $175 ticket! Forget the Waterford!
Fundraiser isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, really, when you hear “Wine and Chile Fiesta,” but this is indeed a fundraiser and this is a charitable organization. The Wine and Chile Fiesta underwrites educational endeavors in the food and beverage industry, such as programs like “Cooking for Kids” (cooking classes for children), while restaurants that want to take their wine service to a higher level can get funding for sommelier classes for their employees. Wow! How nice to have a trained sommelier advising you on your wine selection rather than a server who doesn’t know a Shiraz from a Shiner Bock? All the difference!
And it’s not just The Grand Tasting on Saturday… there are wine classes, field trips, winery dinners paired with local restaurants and open houses all week long beforehand.