Pass the Pinot – Connoisseurs Unite


What does a beer called “dog fish ale” actually taste like?

“It’s a little bitter, but it’s flavorful at the same time. I just had one,” said Fred McNamee, 52, of Norwich. “I’m going back for another.”

Sunday was the second day of The Sun WineFest ‘09, and thousands of people milled through Mohegan Sun’s convention center to sample more than 1,000 different wines, hear from celebrity chefs and sample ales upstairs.

Alicia Mudge, 24, of Norwich, arrived at noon. She tried some wine, went upstairs for a few beers, then went back downstairs for more wine, a few skewers of filet mignon and garlic bread to balance it out.

“It’s really a great learning experience,” she said. “I would never walk into a liquor store and spend money on a wine that I didn’t really know. So this really expands my horizons.”

Corks popped as people exchanged glasses, and the smell of garlic wafted across the center floor from a nearby cooking demonstration.

Christina Pirello, host of the national public television series “Christina Cooks Naturally,” demonstrated how to make tropical salsa over tempeh, a soybean-like food similar to tofu.

If you burn anything while cooking, she advised the audience, just say it’s “blackened.” Better yet, say it’s “caramelized.”

“Caramelized is the new thing,” she said. “Blackened is so ‘80s.”

Ann Zajchowski, 58, of South Windsor said she learned there are different types of vegans. For example, vegans who own leather purses and those who do not, she said.

Peter DeMeo, sales and operations manager for Pellegrini Vineyards on Long Island, poured maybe 300 samples before 2 p.m.

“It is a wine-knowledgeable crowd,” he said. People wanted to know: How many acres are planted at the vineyard? Answer: 70. How many types of wine grape varieties do you have? Answer: Seven. How long is the wine aged in a barrel? Answer: 13 months for reds, nine months for whites.

The sixth annual event was sponsored by Mohegan Sun and Life Marketing & Events, of the Hartford area.

Mudge said she and her friend planned to stay until evening. Her friend’s mother-in-law was driving. She was playing slots.

“We’re staying as long as they’ll let us,” she said.

Copyright NORBL - Norwich Bulletin
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