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United States wines: rich in diversity and versatility

The AIT Agricultural Trade Office organized two wine pairing events to highlight U.S. varietals at the Cosmopolitan Grill Restaurant in the beginning of November: The first was for lifestyle media contacts; the second was a consumer tasting cosponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce and Jasons Wine Discovery Club.

Wines from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington were featured. Well-known labels included Ironstone (the old vine Zinfandel was a particular favorite), L. Ecole, R.H. Phillips, Henry Estate, Vintner’s Collection, Beringer, Sutter Home, Inglenook and Eagle Knoll.

Nine wine importers and promoters — Trustwell Connoisseurs, Eurowill Enterprise, Chateau Harvest, Bright Time Wine and Cigar Inn, Medoc/Allen Wine and Spirits, Seedman, Leading Brands, Mayfull and the Idaho State Dept. of Agriculture — introduced products.

These were then paired by John Isacs, CEO of EnjoyGourmet, with popular American dishes prepared by the Cosmopolitan Grill. In all, 10 wines were served with eight courses. Special display tables with each dish and accompanying wine were also prepared.

Increasingly, said Keith Schneller, head of the American Institute in Taiwan’s Agricultural Trade Office in Taipei, wine connoisseurs worldwide recognize the U.S. Pacific Northwest for its high-quality wines. The fertile soils and numerous microclimates with rolling hills and lush river valleys have made it one of the world’s most important new viticultural areas, he explained.

Wine makers have been quick to take advantage. “Where there were only 50 vineyards in Washington state 10 years ago,” said Schneller, “today, there are more than 500.”

Another of Schneller’s goals is to educate the local market to the fact that U.S. wines come from other states, not just California. “We wanted to introduce a diverse variety of American wines. While most people are familiar with California wines, they do not know much about those from Washington, Oregon or Idaho.”

For Isacs, the objective was to underline the synergy that lies between U.S. wines and food. “U.S. wines have a lot of different flavors and textures. Coming as they do from different regions with different climates, the wines create opportunities for unpretentious pairings that are developing a real following.”

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