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Wine Pour

A glass is poured during the 2018 Wine at the Warehouse Event.

Spring is on the cusp, and with it marks the time of year to save the date and begin waiting like kids at Christmas for this year’s St. Ambrose Wine Festival.

As a wine writer in the Quad-Cities, it’s always an exciting proposition whenever there’s a wine event on community calendars, and even more so when it’s an event the caliber as is that of St. Ambrose’s Wine Festival events. Join me in this three-part series of Bottled Up as we explore this spring’s St. Ambrose University Wine Festival events.

Celebrating the 18th year, St. Ambrose University will be hosting its annual three wine events that are sure to be top on your list for spring save-the-dates. As a fundraiser for student scholarships, the events attract hundreds of attendees each year. Started in 2002, the inaugural event raised more than $33,000 dollars for the university’s students. In the past 17 years, the wine events have grown to bring in more than $1.2 million toward the university’s scholarship programs. With the proceeds going back directly to students these events are ones you can feel proud about being part of.

The Wine Festival is made up of three parts: the Wine at the Warehouse event hosted in March and the subject of this week’s column, the Preview Dinner hosted on Saturday, April 13 featuring wines from Pedroncelli Winery in Geyserville, Calif., and the white tent Wine Festival hosted on Saturday, May 18. More to come on those events in parts two and three in this Bottled Up series on April 3 and May 8.

If you’re considering attending Wine at the Warehouse and the Wine Festival, it’s important to note that both offer early bird pricing so consider getting your tickets now. Those that are new to wine may often feel intimidated by attending these types of exciting events. I encourage and reassure you that these events cater and welcome all levels of wino from the Quad-City community. In a conversation with Anne Gannaway, Executive Director of Advancement for St. Ambrose University, she said “it’s a common misconception that to attend you need to be a St. Ambrose alumnus. These events are for all ages and backgrounds, for the connoisseur and for those completely new to the world of wine.”

The first of the three events, Wine at the Warehouse, will be March 2 from 4-6 p.m., hosted at the Dimitri Wine & Spirits warehouse at 1735 West 3rd Street, Davenport. Guests can experience an exclusive “behind-the-scenes” look at a distributor’s warehouse with countless rows of extraordinary wines and sample some of Dimitri Papageorgiou’s favorite selections. Grab a program! All of the featured wines are listed by table and number for convenience, and tasting notes under each wine listed provide detailed guides as you prepare to taste your way through the event.

As a wine enthusiast, I find tasting events a great way to explore the world of wine, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just beginning to dabble. There can be a lot of anxiety in selecting new wines to try, as you don’t want to make a mistake and find yourself stuck with the entire bottle of not-even-cooking wine. Tasting many wines by the glass is a sure-fire way to explore what you like, what you don’t like, and to better grasp what wine styles are produced across the globe.

For those looking to get the most out of the Wine at the Warehouse experience, ask questions of Dimitri and his team. Understanding what’s in your glass comes from an understanding of what went into the process from grape to finished wine. As you will likely taste a full array of selections, recognize your tasting approach and be cognizant of the five S’s of Wine Tasting.

• See: What colors do you see? Is the color different on the rim versus the center?

• Swirl: In tasting environments where a tabletop isn’t readily available, be careful. Friends turn to enemies when Cabernet is sloshed down their front.

• Sniff: What do you smell? Fruit, floral, earth, inorganic?

• Sip: Swish the wine in your mouth and allow it to hit all of the millions of receptors on your tongue.

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• Savor: Continue to analyze what you are tasting. Does the wine linger after 10 seconds, 20 seconds? Does your mouth feel dry or does it continue to salivate?

This approach to tasting will not only help you to enjoy and get the most out of every glass you encounter but will also help you to start your own mental wine “library” to fine-tune your palate just like the professionals.

As you will likely develop an appetite from tasting a multitude of exquisite wines, Wine at the Warehouse will also feature several local restaurants offering on-site hors d'oeuvres and delightful small plate items for guests to sample as they journey through the many wine regions within the U.S.and travel on to France, Italy, Spain and South America.

To find event details and to purchase tickets for this and the other St. Ambrose Wine Festival events, visit https://www.sau.edu/alumni/special-events/wine-festival.

As we embark on this three-part adventure, I encourage you to check out this spring’s wine events happening here in the Quad-Cities. Whether you’re new to wine or a long-time pro, there’s certainly something for everyone at this year’s St. Ambrose Wine Festival events. Bring your friends and family as these three events are not to be missed.

Carson Bodnarek, a self-proclaimed “cork dork”, is a certificate recipient from the Court of Master Sommeliers and is currently studying for his certified CMS exam. Always on the hunt for his next great bottle of wine for his collection, he is an avid jetsetter and devout foodie. After moving to Quad-Cities from Iowa City in 2013, Carson now resides in Bettendorf.

Contact Carson Bodnarek at 563-383-2299 or cbodnarek@qctimes.com.

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