This year at the Los Angeles Herzog International Wine Festival, I swore I'd figure out a way to dispose any loose ends so I wouldn't have my hands full like in previous years. Navigating a room filled with bite sized kosher appetizers, dozens of fine kosher wines, while carrying a purse and a jacket is like climbing Mount Rushmore while carrying a chissel, a mink and a chihuahua. We won't complain to head of corporate that they didn't have high boys in the room. Listen, this is the sort of event that takes skill. It takes determination. It takes an empty stomach and preferrably someone to follow you around who's carrying a platter and a handy napkin. But since this is my third year at the festival, I came prepared. I made sure to leave my jacket at home and I stashed a few dollars in my pocket just incase I had to pay off someone stupid enough to snatch my picture for their Instagram in a compromising position after downing a little too much Chardonnay.
Much like training to climb a mountain, it takes a lot of strategy to comb a wine buffet. First there are is the proper equipment. Wine glass, check. Small plate, double check. A tour guide named Shlomo, triple check. (We'll get to him in a minute). That's right I need a tour guide to make sure I get my money's worth of the most expensive wine in the room. Last year my wine guide was master Jonathan Tabak. This year I got a chance to put his teachings to the test.
Usually I meet Jonathan, the self proclaimed wine enthusiast, who has a blog called "Kosherwino," but apparently Jonathan was busy giving someone else a tour. That or I couldn't find him because this year the event was even bigger than last, and I swear it seemed like there were Jews that flew in from Argentina and China just to come drink wine and eat chow at a premium hundred bucks a head. (Jonathan still thinks I ditched the event, but I got the hangover and the extra poundage this week to prove my presence.)
Last year Jonathan officially graduated me at the top of my class after giving me the 411 on wine decadence, (I even learned how to swish, sniff and spit -- not that I actually did the third part) so this year I was excited to put my previous lessons to the test. I sipped a few wines, went French, Spain, Italian, you know did the rounds and then I finally settled on a Cabernet called "Alexander The Great" that I fell in love with. Not gonna lie, I chose it because the label was gold and the wine pourer looked a little like Marc Anthony (the singer, not the conquerer). Still, I couldn't help but wonder if I was just allured by the shiny label, even though I did taste hints of chocolate and rasbperry. It was extremely delicious and I kept asking the pourer for seconds. Still, I do like shiny things. Was I truely a wine connoisseur? I couldn't be sure.
Last year I got a little too tipsy, so I decided to spend a little more time in the fine dining section with Chef Todd and his magic. The chicken was breaded in a sweet powdered sugar with cinnamon, the lamb bacon was exquisite as usual, (thank you Chef Todd for saving me some extra) and the pastrami sandwhich was perfectly lean, smoked to perfection. My favorite was the incredible, one-of-a-kind halibut ceviche, truly delicious. The best I've ever had. Wish I could have taken a vat of that stuff home. Finally, after wandering around searching for my tour guide, I fell upon Shlomo Blashka, a wine guide who flew out especially from New York to meet me. Ok, he didn't come specifically for me, but it's my story, so lets assume he did.
I was feelin pretty confident about my ability to pick out the most expensive wine in the house. Surely it had to be Alexander the Great. That wine rocked the house! Instead, sadly, Shlomo lead me to a different table I had not had the privilege of tasting yet. Gen VIII ToKalon from Herzog, one of Herzog's single vineyard was not only delicious but was one of their premiums at a whopping one hundred and eighty bucks. Great, all that sipping last year and I was doomed to never truly learn the art of fine wine tasting. Jonathan clearly didn't know his stuff. Either that or I was truly the worst student ever. So what if I get drunk during my lessons? So what if I have a hard time remembering details like recognizing basil notes and woody undertones? It is wine. Not like I'm climbing Kilimanjaro or anything.
"You know, there is one other wine in the house that is the most expensive wine, it is pretty amazing and it definitely compares to the Gen VIII. Would you like to try it," Shlomo asked me.
Um, hello, does Taco Bell serve burritos? Yes I want to try it.
Before I knew it, Shlomo had lead me back to Marc Anthony with the shiny label, and sure enough Alexander the Great had been served at a whopping two hundred twenty dollars a bottle. I had clearly finally attained wine connoisseur status!
To celebrate my newfound genius, Shlomo introduced me to the most decadent dessert experience: the Morad Passion Fruit, which we downed while eating lemon sponge cake with mulberries and cream.
Jonathan Tabak, you still rock as the best teacher. Clearly you've earned your stripes big guy. Keep whining:)
And yes I had a driver. I might be a slow learner, but I'm not stupid.