The Best Wine Tips We Learned at the 2023 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen

By Oset Babür-Winter, Food & Wine, Published June 23, 2023

Want to choose and enjoy better wines? Take it from the pros.

Drink more Rioja

If you’re a fan of Bordeaux-style winemaking, Goodnight Hospitality founder and sommelier June Rodil says you should be drinking more Rioja. Wines from this region tend to bear heavy influences from Bordeaux, but are generally less expensive and punch above their weight in terms of value. 

Be natural

Wanda Mann, East Coast Editor for The SOMM Journal and the New York Editor for Tasting Panel, explained that while it can be tempting, you don’t have to feel pressure to call out notes of this or that in a wine. Chances are, you won’t taste what’s in your glass the same way as a friend who might pick up different things — and that’s OK. Wine tasting is informed by experiences and emotions.

Acid is aces for aging

Sommelier Amanda McCrossin said that while many wines can age, colder vintages are, generally speaking, a better bet than wines produced during a hotter vintage. This is because hotter vintages tend to have less acid, and acid is key for aging.

Drink more Sangiovese!

Both Carlin Karr and Bobby Stuckey of Boulder’s Frasca Hospitality Group want you to drink more Sangiovese, especially from the Chianti Classico region. These wines are acid-driven, crisp, and delicious, but be warned — if you can’t read the Italian sports newspaper through your glass of Sangiovese, it might not be pure Brunello di Montalcino. Chances are, it’s a blend.

Enjoy Champagne from an unexpected glass

Whenever you find yourself lucky enough to pop open a bottle of great Champagne (you know, the stuff over $30), McCrossin suggests swapping out coupes and Champagne flutes for white wine glasses. Remember, underneath every great bottle of sparkling wine, is a beautiful bottle of still wine; you want to be able to enjoy that in a great glass where you can actually smell it, give a little swirl and of course, enjoy everything that it has to offer.

Don’t hold out too long

While it’s hard to find the right night to open that special bottle you’ve been hanging onto, Alinea Group director of development Gary Obligacion asked guests to make the wine into the occasion. “Too many times I’ve sat back and sat on a bottle for 10 years, and it was dead,” he said. “Do it Tuesday.”

Chill your reds 

Wine expert and author Mark Oldman likes to enjoy his red wine — even a fuller-bodied red wine — with a bit of a chill. He says it focuses the flavors more, and makes for a refreshing drinking experience.

Figure out if you like a wine in four easy steps

Take it from San Francisco Chronicle wine columnist Leslie Sbrocco, the best way to determine whether or not a wine is for you is by seeing what’s in your glass, smelling it, swirling, and sipping. You’re looking for color, aromatics, and of course, taste.