Today I got to have some fun. I was invited to a ‘trade only’ “Educational Wine Tasting” by my wine distributor, Vehrs. I always like to take a second to these things partly because there are so many wines to taste I can use an extra set of taste buds, and partly because it is just more fun to do so. This event was at the Sea Grill in Tacoma (McKay restaurants… they own El Gaucho, etc…) and since Mark doesn’t love to do these things on a Monday, and Renee is pregnant and Lori is on vacation, I took my mom. It was her first trade tasting and it was fun to watch her have fun. The first one is a bit overwhelming: so much wine and so little time! I have a system.

There were 6 tables of wine from different areas, and none of them had less than 8 wines to taste; most had more. Since we only sell Italian and Washington wines, I don’t taste anything California unless someone says something is amazing. I start with the whites, stop and eat a little nosh; then go for the reds. It takes a long time, sipping and talking and nibbling and learning about the wines I am particularly interested in. There were wines from South America; Australia; France; Spain; Italy; Oregon; Idaho; California; Washington and probably a few other places I have forgotten.

I focused on Washington and found a couple of really fun wines that we may bring in as a celebratory gift wine. There is a white and a ‘pink’ and they have gold flecks in them. They are decent wines, at good prices, but the kitschy gold makes them really fun and appealing. There was one table that was consistently great, and we will try to have a tasting with their wines. It was Terra Blanca winery in the Red Mountain region of Eastern WA. They have just been certified ‘salmon safe’ and while they are not certified organic (which takes at least 5 years and lots of money) they practice organic farming. They are on a well, so no irrigation, but are too young to dry-farm. They use sustainable practices and are very proud of their grapes. I thought they were consistently good, drinkable, and a couple of times fabulous!

I want to add here that, being from eastern Washington originally, it is sort of odd to hear these places referred to in such awestruck tones when it comes to wine. When I was a girl the horse heaven hills was where our old dog went to die. Louden and Touchet were on the way to Walla Walla and the Yakima Valley was just Yakima. So I drink the wines and I fall in love with them over and over again. I am falling in love with the terroir and environment that I escaped and never wanted to go back to. And I drink it in. Washington wines are world class and I can go on and on about that; but when I break it down to where the grapes are actually growing, and I realize I am drinking wine from grapes growing in places that I knew really well… it seems surreal to say the least.

Anyway! I love great wines at great price points and we definitely have that at the cafe. Terra Blanca will fit in nicely and it will be fun to do a tasting with them. So now I have at least 4 wineries that I want to do tastings with, so I hope you are ready to drink some wine!

When we were done sampling mom and I needed something a bit more substantial in our systems so we walked over to the Pacific Grill. The Naccarato brothers have a phenomenal happy hour and if you find your self in Tacoma at happy hour you should definitely go there! The food was sublime (we shared 4 things off of the happy hour menu) and I will just say this: Bleu Cheese Tater Tots! Hello! Yea, yea the BBQ’d oysters were fantastic, the seafood cocktail was zingy, and the cheese and tomato bread actually worth dying for… but really. Bleu. Cheese. Tater. Tots. There is nothing left to say.