NY Grand Tasting: Celebrating the State's Best Wines

NY Grand Tasting: Celebrating the State's Best Wines

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France. Italy. Spain. California… These are the regions that usually come to mind when thinking of quality wine, but that list is about to change: Today, the Big Apple produces more than 200 million bottles a year, and has 451 wineries, as well as 35,000 acres of vineyards. In celebration of that, “NY Drinks NY” launched its 8th annual Grand Tasting event on April 27th, in the Rockefeller Building’s Rainbow Room.

New York was very pretty that day: Manhattan, sunny sky, warm weather, and wine. The perfect match, and I couldn’t have been more excited to have a taste of the city. When I got there, a smiling host walked me through the hallway into the Rainbow Room.

It is an elegant, rounded venue with majestic windows and a glamorous pink ceiling, set off with a crystal chandelier that dates back to 1934. But I wondered: “Why was it called the Rainbow Room if it wasn’t multicolored?”

The area was crowded with wine lovers and experts, that were walking around 50 winery stands from different New York areas (Finger Lakes, Greater Niagara Region, North Fork, Hudson Valley, Brooklyn, Long Island…), I joined the crowd and wandered around the stands. I had a wide variety to pick from, and ended up tasting everything: the sparkling, the white, the red, the rosé, the fruity, and the aged.

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As I was exploring the breathtaking room, I saw the perfect compliment for any wine tasting: a huge table of cheese and charcuterie, but not any kind: New York-made (of course), artisan breads, spreads, sweet butter, figs and grapes.

Carrying my plate of charcuterie and cheese, I walked around the room again, and visited more stands to explore new NY wines: Wölffer Estate Vineyards’ Summer in a Bottle is a peachy rosé, bottled in a retro, eye-catching design. Rooftop’s Red is a Brooklyn-based winery that grows its vineyards on the rooftop of its building, to produce their deliciously-dry white: Grüner Veltliner. Clinton Vineyards’ award-winning Cassis is a fruity, 100% black currant wine, with a strong yet delicious aroma.

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The exploration of wine didn’t stop there. The event also included two seminars hosted by esteemed award-winners, and experts in the field: “The Past, Present and Future of New York’s Hybrid Grapes”, and “Simply Red: Exploring the Variety of Red Vinifera Grapes from Across New York State.”

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Grand Tasting felt like having a winery tour-NYC style: On the 65th floor of one of Manhattan’s most prestigious venues, with a breathtaking view of the beautiful city, facing the Empire State Building. As I sipped from my glass, a little tipsy, I realized that the sun’s light was hitting the crystals hung across the glassed venue. The reflection was creating beautiful dancing rainbow beams, that decorated the room, the ceiling, the floor, the people, and every single wine bottle in the Rainbow Room.

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