A Festival of Great Wine Experiences

How to get the best of the fest.

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Story by Charles Fredy

wine advice by Charles FredyThis June, the twenty-eighth annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival returns to Maui with an extravagant celebration of gustatory delights. The festival offers a rare opportunity to interact with extremely knowledgeable wine people: vineyard owners, winemakers, distributors, and especially the master sommeliers who gather here from around the country.

Whether you attend for a single afternoon or the entire festival—which runs June 11 through 14—a little preparation will help you get the most for your money.

You’ll want to attend some of the seminars, of course. Structured to explore specific regions, varietals, or food-wine pairings, the seminars not only offer a wealth of information, but the chance to explore outstanding wines from around the world, paired with brilliant cheese selections and gastronomic delights from top chefs. Discussions on how they were chosen, why they work, and what else they might pair with make this a real hands-on experience you can duplicate or expand on at home. Nationally acclaimed master sommeliers will also be on hand to discuss their wine selections.

My advice? Go with an adventurous mind. As a consumer, it’s easy to put yourself in a small box in terms of the wine world. Wine is not cheap, and you don’t want to make too many mistakes. The Kapalua Wine & Food Festival will feature more than 100 wines, and expose you to more new regions and varietals over a single weekend than most of us would experience on our own all year. Of course, you can go and cherry-pick your favorites, the wonderful, high-end wines you don’t usually indulge in. But I encourage you to go deeper, and explore wines you’d never try otherwise. If you don’t like one, just go on to the next. What a terrific way to broaden your palate!

In the long run, the festival may even save you money. Anyone can find good expensive wines. But finding a wine that offers incredible quality and value at a cost below that of a comparable popular wine, takes hard work and expertise. The Kapalua Wine & Food Festival lets you benefit from the people who have that expertise and have done the hard work for you.

Suppose that, at the festival, you learn about a new wine region in Spain whose wines you discover you really enjoy. If it’s not a well-known region, its wines may retail for half the price of a comparable California wine. Once you’ve tasted it, you can go to your local wine shop and ask to be shown wine selections from that region and in that varietal.

I hope you will indulge in the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival all you can. And while you’re at it, check out some of the dinners that Kapalua’s restaurants will present that weekend outside the festival. You’ll find a schedule of these additional dinners at www.mauimagazine.net. .

Charles Fredy is a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, and a certified specialist of wine with the Society of Wine Educators. A thirty-one-year veteran of the wine-and-spirits industry, he is vice president of Better Brands, Maui.

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