By: Christie Cooper
As soon as I received my souvenir wine glass for the National Harbor Wine and Food Festival, I knew the day would be filled with great spirits, delicious food, and good times. The wine glass was the key to exploring and tasting the plethora of beers, liquors, and wines on display. When I crossed the entrance into wine lover and foodie heaven, I began my mission – to find a new wine to take home and enjoy. By the end of the festival, Far Eastern Shore Winery’s (Maryland) Ruby Wine helped me to accomplish my goal.
Located just minutes from Washington, DC, National Harbor is located in Prince George’s County, Maryland on the Potomac River. There was a great variety of samples to choose from – dry, off-dry, and sweet wines, hard ciders, vodkas, and whiskeys. There were also food trucks, vendors, and a stage for food presentations, but alcohol seemed to be the focus of the festival. One of the many highlights for me was smoking (but not inhaling) a Grand Marnier infused cigar. It was surprisingly delicious.
My first sample was one of my favorites, Cupcake Wines’ (California) Moscato D’Asti. This refreshing wine contains flavors including peach, tropical fruits and lychee. Yum! Another familiar brand but one I’ve never tasted, my second sample was the low-calorie Skinnygirl cocktails. I sampled the Sweet N’ Tart Grapefruit Margarita and White Cranberry Cosmo; two ready-to-serve cocktails and equally delicious. Although both are low-cal options, they do not have a low-cal taste. Anytime I can enjoy an alcoholic beverage without worrying how many pounds I’ll gain, it’s a winner in my book.
On the spirits side, I really enjoyed Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which is produced in Austin, Texas. The vodka was smooth and when mixed with ginger beer, it was a simple, yet delicious cocktail.
Another light, simple, summertime drink I sampled was Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey and Crystal Light Peach Tea. Woodford’s Distiller’s Select variety is handmade in small batches, which gives it a crisp taste. While sampling the whiskeys, I made sure to get a picture with none other than Mr. Jack Daniels himself.
As I continued making my rounds, I came across Pinnacle Vodka’s line of flavored vodkas and sampled Strawberry Shortcake, which I was told is among the most popular flavors. The Strawberry Shortcake was indeed very reminiscent of the dessert, and so smooth that it really didn’t need a mixer.
Other new favorites of the day were The Winery at Olney’s (Maryland) delicious fruit wines. I sampled the Blackberry Merlot, Peach Chardonnay, Watermelon White Merlot, Green Apple Riesling, and Cranberry Shiraz. It was difficult to select my favorite, but I narrowed it down to the Peach Chardonnay and Cranberry Shiraz. I’ll soon add those to my collection of newbies.
If you’re in the area next year, I’d definitely suggest going to the festival. You’ll come away with having tried many local and national wines and spirits. It seems well-worth the $40 General Admission fee. Cheers!
Photo Credit: Christie Cooper and wineandfoodnh.com