Tropicana’s Jersey Shore Wine Festival
By Kimberly Shurig
Food and Beverage Editor
You absolutely love going wine tasting, but it does present one serious problem: who will sit out and drive you around? Playing designated driver on a day of wine tasting is a necessary evil, ensuring that everyone else is able to enjoy the day without posing a hazard to others on the road. Fortunately, Tropicana’s Jersey Shore Wine Festival is taking place Feb. 24 (12 p.m. – 6 p.m.) and Feb. 25 (12 p.m. – 4 p.m.) in their Grand Exhibition Center. It’s time to check out what New Jersey wine is all about. Taste some new wines you’ve never had and enjoy this rare opportunity to sample pours from over 150 New Jersey wineries without ever having to undergo the inconvenience of getting behind the wheel.
The thing I like best about the Jersey Shore Wine Festival, (besides the obvious that it’s all about wine), is that it’s emphasis is on New Jersey-crafted fare. Every single wine poured started out as a grape grown in the Garden State. Every single participating winery or food brand is based in New Jersey. It steeps the affair in an aura of comfort and community; you aren’t just tasting wine, for ourfellow New Jerseyans, we are enjoying the fruits of our land. And why not showcase the bounty of earth found right below our feet, (or close enough)? Yes, the Bordeaux and Sangiovese regions of Europe make famously fine wines, but we are in New Jersey and this premiere local event, offers festival goers the rare opportunity to enjoy wines from local vineyards like Valenzano Winery, Plagido’s Winery, Sharrott Winery, Belleview Winery and many more.
When attending any wine festival there’s always a little bit of tension that’s equal parts intimidating and exhilarating. Will you say something weird about the legs of the wine and have to run to an entirely different section of the festival because of that weird thing you just said? Will you take a sip of a wine you really don’t like and spill it out at a garbage can a little too close to that wine’s booth, so the wine guy clearly sees what you’re doing and runs after you—cork in one hand, silver wine opener flailing ominously in the other—and begs you to give his Pinot Grigio a second chance? I don’t know. But, there will be Educational seminars with wine experts including local sommelier, Paul Tonacci, whose industry-recognized certifications include Certified Wine Judge (American Wine Society), Certified Specialist of Wine (Society of Wine Educators) and Level 2 Certified Sommelier (Court of Master Sommeliers), to help you with all your weird and not so weird wine questions.
Do not worry that you will need to do all of this wine tasting on an empty stomach, either. Delicious food items will be available for purchase including Handcrafted Pretzels, BBQ Pulled Pork served with Jack Daniel’s Honey BBQ Sauce, and Tropicana’s award-winning Lobster Bisque Chowder and Cape May Clam Chowder. Admission to this event includes a souvenir wine glass, participation in educational wine seminars, and a plate full of fruits and cheeses. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and can be purchased at the Tropicana Box Office or via Ticketmaster at ticketmaster.com. Designated-driver tickets are only $10 and can only be purchased at the door. You Must be 21 to attend.