The New York City Wine & Food Festival's Grand Tasting Is a Carnival of Booze
Is there anything better than stuffing your face with wine and cheese under a perfect NYC sky?
This past Thursday, the New York City Wine & Food Festival got a soggy start.
The Burger Bash, arguably one of the high points of the fete that benefits God’s Love We Deliver, was held at NYC Pier 86 — home to the Intrepid Museum. An evening event eating burgers and drinking under the stars and giant air-and- sea craft seems like the best of all ideas — that is until storm clouds decide to mess with it. New Yorkers don’t let a good soaking get in the way of fun, as evidenced by the hundreds of people waiting in the downpour to nab a burger or a glass of wine.
The next day, however, Mother Nature resumed her love affair with New York. Friday afternoon was one of those perfect cloudless autumn afternoons — what pilots call ”severe clear.”
The NYCWFF’s Grand Tasting has a distinct formula for success: Add equal parts trade show and carnival, then sprinkle liberally with alcohol.
As you walk down the rows of tents, beautiful people implore you to sip their tequila, have a bite of cheese, and take this promotional tote bag. And, in this age of social media, each spirits company tries to outdo its brethren by creating photographable experiences.
Makers Mark and Jim Beam recreated their rustic Kentucky distilleries that visitors could tour while sipping on a bourbon neat. Models dressed as Day of the Dead Catrinas poured Stella Rosa wine. Coney Island Brewery hired clowns, jugglers, and a man who challenged passers-by to an unwinnable shell game.
The winner, at least in my heart, was Air France. Setting up at the very back of the village, Air France offered a Parisian experience complete with musicians (with the requisite accordion player), free-flowing Champagne, and wool berets for all!
For six hours, I ate copious amounts of cheese (again…France), and drank. I watched celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian make an espresso martini for a few hundred enthralled fans, and I took a minute to watch the ferries traverse the Hudson River.
And, as with everything, amidst all the flash, there was substance. I discovered Citric Cafe, a small restaurant in Astoria that served some of the best ceviche I’ve tasted. I had delightful pours of Caymus and Daou wines. And the Angel’s Envy cocktail was liquid autumn in a glass.
As my friend and I left the tent to find our Uber — head slightly buzzed, feet slightly tired — we compared notes as to what were the best pours (her was a Mezcal, mine was a bourbon) and agreed it was a very good day, indeed.