Wine Spectator's wine tasting event is coming to South Florida, offerings wine lovers a chance to sample dozens of the world's top-rated wines.
This spring, Wine Spectator’s Grand Tour Florida is making its way to Hollywood at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, where attendees will have the opportunity to taste around the globe from the world’s best wine-growing regions. During the event, guests can meet and mingle with top winemakers as they share bottles — more than 200, to be precise — Wine Spectator staff has rated 90 points or higher.
The tour rotates cities every year. This year, it will take place in Hollywood on April 15, as well as Chicago on April 22, and Las Vegas on April 29. The inaugural Grand Tour took place in 2002, making this year — 2023 — the event's 20th anniversary due to the canceled 2020 date at the start of the pandemic.
To celebrate, the event is back — and better than ever. According to Alison Napjus, senior editor and tasting director at Wine Spectator, two factors distinguish Wine Spectator's Grand Tour from other wine-tasting events: high quality and diversity.
"All of the wines at the tasting rated 90 points or higher by Wine Spectator tasters in blind tastings. This means that as an attendee, it's more about finding what your palate likes — it's not about figuring out if you think a wine is good versus bad, because they're all outstanding," explains Napjus. "At Wine Spectator, we believe enjoying wine is as important as learning about it, and this tasting gives ample opportunity to do both."
Part of discovering what you enjoy as a wine drinker means trying wines from different regions, different grapes, and different vintages — which is exactly what a tour of this size and scope can offer. With over 225 wineries and wines, the tasting will encompass many bottles of reds and whites, but also sparkling, dessert, and rosé wines. It includes wineries based in 13 countries offering wines produced from 30 distinct wine regions and 30 grape varieties.
The only downside? With so many options, there's no way you'd be able to taste all 225 wines in one evening, Napjus laments.
Even so, there are a few tips — and a handful of wines — she encourages everyone attending the event to try this year, with specific picks that cover some of the tour's most coveted options.
"First, I don't want to miss a 98-point wine," says Napjus. "The most highly-rated wine of the tasting is the Dow Vintage Port 2016, a rich fortified dessert wine from Portugal."
"Second, as a Champagne-lover (and the Wine Spectator editor responsible for reviewing the region's wines) I can't miss an opportunity to taste the Rare Brut Champagne 2008. This is a beautiful bubbly from one of the best vintages for Champagne this century. I rated it 97 points when I originally reviewed it in 2020, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it's aging after a few years."
"Finally, I love to drink red Burgundy, but to be honest, most of it is well out of my budget. So I often turn instead to Pinot Noirs from Oregon. There are six being poured at the Grand Tour, once each from Alexana, Archery Summit, Elk Cove, Penner-Ash, Résonance, and Zena Crown Vineyard," she adds. "Most of these wineries are pouring a top bottling--which means they're not necessarily inexpensive either. So I welcome the chance to try six of them in a row, to see what I especially like and might think about buying for my home cellar."
Wine Spectator's Grand Tour will take place at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, on Saturday, April 15, from 6 to 10 p.m. (VIP hour from 6 to 7 p.m.). All attendees will have access to a complimentary buffet during the event, and will receive a souvenir Riedel tasting glass. General admission tickets are available online for $275 per person, and VIP tickets are available for $375 per person.
A portion of net proceeds from the event benefits the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation, which provides grants and scholarships to a wide variety of wine-related and culinary programs. To date, more than $30 million has been raised thanks to the generosity of vintners and wine lovers around the world.
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