Featuring hundreds of wines, Harborside’s waterfront property buzzed with tastings, live entertainment, innovative food and seminars hosted by Mana Wine and held about every 45 minutes. We attended the Malbec seminar which highlighted the history of the variety, 4 different kinds of Malbec and the flavor notes in each.
From Rosé, to Malbec, to Chardonnay, to Pinot Noir, to Zinfandel, to a handful of blends and varieties I hadn't even heard of, it was a wine connoisseur’s paradise. As many choices as there were, several unique wines stood out to us.
I tend to gravitate towards white wines, as I like things on the sweeter side, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the 1,000 Stories Bourbon Barrel-Aged Zinfandel from California. The grapes came from Mendocino and Sonoma and had a hint of smokiness from the bourbon barrel aging. This is where the best part of the flavor came from, which (fun fact) the barrels were once used to make some of the highest quality bourbon.
Another wine I particularly enjoyed, was the Italian sparkling Moscato from Gemma di Luna. I don’t typically go for sparkling wines but this was one I would make an exception for! Not only were the labels super cute, reminiscent of Tiffany’s packaging, it was refreshingly sweet and full of flavor. A bonus for people who aren’t trying to keel over while drinking as this Moscato has a lower alcohol level.
In addition to the wine tastings, there were a handful of liquor tastings, cider tables and additional food tables and samples. One of the most innovative was the pre-made Mezcal Mule by Tres Papalote. Pre-made beverages are not something typically associated with a well-made cocktail but Tres Papalote has figured out how to make a perfectly curated cocktail in a bottle. So much so, that after our tasting we looked at each other in surprise. It had a perfectly blended smokey and citrus flavor that if I had been doing a blind taste test I would have guessed it was created moments before by a mixologist.
On a nearby table, we saw the most perfect bite-sized cupcakes, provided by local blog Hoboken Girl, that were itching to be tasted. Most of the flavors were pretty standard, except for an unreal dulce de leche cupcake that reminded me of homemade desserts from my childhood. However, my favorite sample was the bacon jam from Bespoke Bacon. It paired beautifully with many of the wine tastings.
At the end of the evening we left feeling more knowledgeable about wine, inspired to take a class and slightly warm and fuzzy inside. Wine is a world that is continually evolving and full of people who ooze a passion for the craft. This was an event I would go back to and something you should definitely keep your eye out for next winter!
"Lindsey Messenger is a graphic designer by day, and a travel and adventure blogger running the site Seven Day Weekender. She is a contributing travel and local experience writer."
We were invited guests of the NJ Wine Fest, however, our opinions are our own.