How The Winners Get Picked at the Food & Wine Experience

Photos by Jason DeRusha

I know that sitting around tasting 100 or so wines sounds like your idea of a great evening, but trust me–it’s hard work.

OK, I’m lying. It’s a lot of fun.

I joined some of the greatest minds in Twin Cities wine at Roth Distributing Co. in Minnetonka. Bill Belkin, Chuck Kanski (Solo Vino), David Anderson (France 44 Wine & Spirits), Bill Abrahamson (Liquors Plus), Mitch Zavada (South Lyndale Liquors) and Noelle Starr (Surdyk’s).

We tasted wines in several categories: Bordeaux, Chardonnay, Cool Climate, Fruity, Imported Red, Imported White, Pinot, Rhone, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sparkling. Some of these are mid-range priced wines, some are great values priced at $15 or less.

It was a blind tasting, which is really interesting. We didn’t know what we were tasting–what brand, what the precise varietal was, or what the blend was made up of. We just knew the category names.

food and wine experience, twin cities, minneapolis, wine

Philosophically, I don’t love blind tasting. I enjoy the story of a wine house, knowing what grapes are in there, and knowing the people behind the label. However, you do learn about some great wines that you might usually pass up at the liquor store.

You can find the whole list of best wines here. In particular, I always enjoy the Piattelli wines, so it was no surprise to see their Torrontes win the best of Imported White category. The Locus Red Syrah/Grenache is also lovely, as is the always reliable and delicious Opolo Grand Rouge in the Rhone category.

Part of the fun of the Food & Wine Experience is the opportunity to try a bunch of wines with an open mind: so don’t only try the wines listed in your program with the highest retail price. Try something you’ve never tried before. And let me know your favorites–I’m always looking for new bottles to briefly put in my wine fridge before I drink them!

For a full list of exhibitors at this year’s 22nd Annual Minnesota Monthly Food and Wine Experience, or to purchase tickets ($80 in advance; $85 at the door) visit