The rodeo doesn’t begin until February, but on Saturday, more than two dozen wine judges were corralled in a large room on the Freeman Coliseum grounds. Here, they spent most of the day judging some 500 wines for the first San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo S.A.L.E. Wine Competition.
This competition will be an annual event.
If “rodeo” seems a milieu more compatible with beverages such as Big Red and Bud, the wine competition, and wine in general, has generated quite a bit of excitement, according to one of the organizers at Saturday’s event.
“Everybody used to get excited about what musicians were playing. Now, more of them want to know what wines will be served,” she said.
The results will be tallied, and the final grand prizewinners will be announced in a few days, says organizer Dinah Covert. Then the award-winning wines will be showcased throughout the 2010 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and paired with food to be served at the 33rd annual Go Western Gala “Wine & Rodeo” event, Jan. 16.
Just as in the San Antonio Wine Competition, a fund-raiser for KLRN-TV, having its 10th anniversary next year, the wines were tasted “blind.” In other words, while judges might have been told what varietals they were tasting, or what group of wines (such as “all other reds”) they did not see any of the wine labels.
For the judges, including wine sellers, educators, writers and enthusiasts, sipping and sniffing were the rules of the day. A little good-natured grumbling about the necessity of tasting wines that, well, just don’t make the grade, is also par for the course.
Phrases such as “Onions? Onions on the nose? In a Riesling?” or “I don’t mind a little bell pepper in a wine” or “Why did our panel have to taste all the sweet wines?” were heard as the day wore on. Just as were the expressions of appreciation for the true standouts in this field of domestic wines.
What was different about Saturday’s judging at this new event was that panels of “People’s Choice” judges were seated behind a black curtain on the other side of the room.
The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo 2010 will be Feb. 4-21.
Proceeds from the auction of top-winning wines during the gala will benefit the S.A.L.E. Scholarship Fund. A portion of the funds will go toward viticulture scholarships for Texas youth who attend Texas colleges and universities with programs supporting viriculture. For more event and ticket information, go to www.sarodeo.com.