There aren’t many times in life you’ll have unlimited access to more than 200 types of wines—all over the course of a single night. At Fête Rouge, Baton Rouge’s premier food and wine festival, ticket holders are given an empty wine glass and set free. But really, how does a person handle such a task—and is it even possible? Do you approach it like a drinking game? Or do you legitimately explore the wines at your disposal, recording what you like and aiming to leave with a list of new favorites to pick up at a later date?
Bin 77 sommelier Mitch Rodgers says to aim for the latter. It’s not hard to do if you keep a few tips in mind. Here’s some help from Rodgers.
How are the Fête Rouge wines selected?
We had wine distributors submit a list of possibilities to the
Baton Rouge Epicurean Society, which plans the event. Its board of directors decided which ones would be featured based on local preferences and wine trends.
What sort of variety will we see?
Wines from all over, including France, Italy, Spain, Australia and, of course, California and other parts of the U.S. There will be several wine tables, each staffed by a wine rep and featuring a range of varietals and types of wine, from sparkling wines to heavy reds.
How should you narrow the field?
One way to look at it is to taste in a traditional progression, meaning starting with sparkling wines and moving through whites, rosés and reds. It’s easier on your palate to do it this way, because if you start with something really heavy and aggressive, it’s harder to go back down and taste something subtle and light-bodied.
What’s a wine you wouldn’t miss?
I wouldn’t miss the blue-chip wines, the really expensive ones. You can sample some incredible wines whose bottle price is much higher than your Fête Rouge ticket price of $75.
A wine tasting spittoon is a common piece of equipment in wine tasting events large and small. Will tabletop spittoons be available?
Yes, and I would encourage people to use them, and to take water and food breaks between drinking wine to increase your stamina.
How should you approach pairing the wines available with the dishes that will be served?
Show the wine rep the dishes you’re sampling, and ask what would pair best.
Fête Rouge Food & Wine Fête
Friday, Aug. 23, 7-10 p.m.
L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge
Tickets are $75 each
This article was originally published in the August 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.