I’m slowly checking the myriad of wine & food festivals off my list, but the monumental difference between attending this year’s SOBE fest versus the Aspen Classic or NYCWFF was that, thankfully, I didn’t have to work. As a PR marketer for CPG brands, you can generally find me staffed behind the booth representing my clients in the midst of wrangling media. Imagine my excitement when my good friends at Sobieski Vodka offered two tickets for me and a friend to come down to Miami and LEISURELY enjoy the Grand Tasting event. In 80 degree weather on the beach in the middle of February. Twist my arm, why don’t you.
I couldn’t help but individually snoop through all of the sponsor experiences to make mental note of the ingenious (or faulty) brand experiences. I could bore you with my marketing take-aways, but I thought you may be more interested in receiving my favorite food & beverage highlights.
I was born a fat cheese-head (go, Wisconsin!) so you may notice a trend in my top three dishes…
Castello: Hats off to this delectable cheese brand. Only for the first hour of the tasting they served a special Michael Symon’s ‘Bonus Burger’ featuring the brand’s new sliced blue cheese which will be available in grocery stores this May. Additional points include: 1) Their brand spokesperson, Michael Symon, is my secret chef crush. 2) The representatives were incredibly knowledgeable so it was clear you were speaking with someone from the company who knew their cheese versus a paid brand ambassador.
Fratelli la Bufala: This fresh burrata from Italy had the line practically stretched across the length of the tasting tent. Unbeknownst to me, there is a location in New York’s Upper West Side! Guess who will be stopping by for lunch very soon…
Doggis Churrasqueria & Arepas Bar: Tequenos is the Venezuelan version of the American mozzarella stick – a delicate pastry stuffed with different types of cheese and served with a dipping sauce. This particular tequenos had mozzarella cheese with a merlo aioli. The cheese wasn’t piping hot oozing out of the pastry but just tells you how damn delicious they were that it made my top three.
From shaved ice chipotle grapefruit margaritas being served up by the Cooking Channel to Tanqueray cocktails, new Jagermeister Spice sampling and Strongbow Cider, there was certainly enough alcohol to go around.
My favorite wine of the day was Barton & Guestier Rose D’Anjou sparking rose. It was perfectly chilled, crisp and refreshing with a hint of sweetness – an amazing complement to walking around a super hot beach in Miami. I almost fell over backwards when I got home and found out the price point is less than $12. This could make sense considering my friend and I quickly discovered we could very well be a cheap date. Marriott International challenged us in a blind taste test to identify the $15 vs. $300 glass of wine and we both failed. I wonder what my instructor Steve at Chelsea Wine Vault would think. Hopefully I can spruce up my game in time for my Wine Regions of France class next week.