Key West Food and Wine Festival: The Blending Seminar

Grenache grapes from Santa Barbara California
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Day two of the annual Key West Food and Wine Festival (KWFWF) brought more fun. I went to the Boisset Family Blending Seminar in the afternoon, which was different from most wine seminars I have been to in the past in one main way: it was terrific. Wine seminars are often run by people that know less about wine than I do. (I happen to know quite a bit about the subject, but that is beside the point) The ones that I have attended have also been condescending and downright boring. This seminar, however, was led by a knowledgeable and witty woman, Deirdre Conley, who made the entire afternoon fun.

Dierdre took us through a lineup of Louis Bernard wines ranging from Cotes du Rhone to Chateauneuf du Pape. We discussed the main grapes in each wine – Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Along with discussing the aromas and flavors, she shared her knowledge of the Rhone region and the French culture. Once we tasted the wines, we were asked to blend our own. Given Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre we came up with unique blends.

As I often stray from the beaten path, I decided to make my version of a Northern Rhone wine – generally these are Syrah, perhaps with a bit of Viognier. As the only white I had available was a Cotes du Rhone blend, I used some of that in my wine. Apparently I am the only one that thought myself clever, since I am pretty sure it ended up in last place. I still applaud my creativity (read: unwillingness to play by the rules).

My mother’s blend, however, was made with all of the correct varietals and came in second place. It seems she may have won had she put forth a little more effort into the label making process (read: coloring on a torn sheet of paper with crayons).

The only other time I have blended my own wine was at a Mollydooker dinner back in September, where the blending was fun, but the wines were horrible, so none of us really wanted to drink the regular stuff or our blends. Here, on the other hand, we had good wines to work with and had a good time trying each other’s wines.

It seemed to me that the crowd of about 20 really enjoyed themselves. It is hard not to, when the person running the show has great energy and enthusiasm. Many thanks to Dierdre for proving that a wine seminar in a festival setting can be both informative and fun. I’m sure the people that went to the caviar seminar thought they chose the best option, but I would doubt that any group had as much fun as we did.