Westchester Magazine‘s annual Wine & Food Festival kicks off on Tuesday, June 5 with one of our newest events, Salute! A Wine Tasting Tour of Italy. Taking place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center, the tour and tasting is hosted by world-renowned oenophile and wine expert Kevin Zraly. Guests will be able to sip and savor reds, whites, and sparkling wines from several different Italian regions, all while enjoying the gorgeous architecture of the cultural center and delicious hors d’oeuvres catered by Ace Endico and DeCicco & Sons.
This week we called up Zraly himself to give us some quick “tasting notes” on what you can expect from this year’s Salute! A Wine Tasting Tour of Italy.
What’s unique about Italians wines like the ones you’ll be showcasing?
I think the great thing about Italian wines — and I just spent the whole summer in Italy — is they’re really meant to be consumed with food. They’re “food-friendly,” is probably the best way of putting it. And they make as much red as white, plus sparkling wine, so we’ll be trying the three major [groups].
In your expert opinion, how do local Hudson Valley wines and their vintners compare to other American producers like in California?
The oldest winery [in the United States] is in Orange County. There was no California. The top two states for making wine in the early days were New York and Ohio. The oldest vineyard in the United States is in Marlborough, NY.
So how they compare … let me put them on a world-class status, not an American status: You have some wines in the Hudson Valley that will compete against French wines and California wines and be on par, be equal in quality.
What do you look forward to about our annual Wine & Food Festival?
A lot of people go to wine events and the supplier serves their cheap wines, their cupcakes wines, the $10 bottle. We’re not doing that. We’re looking for $15 minimum and really more than that.
I’m looking forward to the connoisseurs’ tent because that’s something I created two years ago. Those wines are expensive wines. Fifty dollars a bottle, seventy- five, a hundred dollars a bottle. I think people really need to know this isn’t a ‘silly’ wine event. It’s got high-quality wines being served in an unbelievable atmosphere. Kensico reservoir is an exciting venue!