Food and wine paired at Lake Tahoe event |

Food and wine paired at Lake Tahoe event

Lake Tahoe poured itself a brimming array of culinary delights and diverse wine selections from around the world last week with the inaugural Food & Wine in the Pines.

The event was a celebration of great culinary and winemaking talent benefiting several local charities. The show offered more than a chance to taste good wine. Participants were able to learn about wine from the people who make it, as well as educate themselves on the complex interaction of food and wine pairing during the show’s seminars and tasting events.

With wine glasses in hand, we embarked on a four-day odyssey of wine and gourmet foods.

The show began Thursday with noted wine judge G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski leading tours of the El Dorado County wine country where the only prerequisite was to board a limousine and luxuriate in the camaraderie and fun.

Later, Tahoe’s Peter Arcuri offered a vintage wine seminar demonstrating how wines develop over time. The evening finished with an extravaganza of California and European wines chosen to complement the kaleidoscope of gourmet edibles set before us and waiting to be sampled. Chef Otto Helfenstein and his staff at the Horizon outdid themselves.

Martin Yan of “Yan Can Cook” hosted a Friday reception that paired Asian fare with wines of the Pacific Rim. Australian winemakers poured a diverse selection of wines from several regions. Following the reception he entertained the crowd during a four course Asian dinner with his culinary magic including his famous 20-second chicken routine. After the demonstration, Yan spent time at each table signing cookbooks for everyone.

Saturday’s events began with several local restaurants offering scrumptious appetizers that paired well with the great wines of El Dorado County. Two of California’s premier women winemakers and a master sommelier next presented a blind tasting seminar on wine and food interaction. For the evening meal a Celebrating Women Chef’s Dinner was prepared by several of America’s top women chefs and included five courses with a coordinated wine for each. The evening concluded with a decadent wines and dessert tasting, in case you were still hungry!

Sunday’s Grand Finale tasting gave guests a chance to mingle with the winemakers and chefs while sampling more than 50 wines and another great selection of foods from our local restaurants. Oh, please! Can anyone recommend a wine that goes well with Slim Fast?!

Lake Tahoe Food & Wines in the Pines could easily become one of the premier wine events in the West. We have the opportunity to attend several wine and food events each year and this show was beyond first-rate.

The Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority, Steve and Penny Teshara and their committee deserve a great deal of credit for the 18 months of planning that went into this event. Steve Teshara told us that this was an opportunity to showcase the outstanding local culinary talent coupled with great regional wines, some well known and many off the beaten path.

Proceeds from the event will help the Culinary Arts Department at Lake Tahoe Community College, the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center, and the Lake Tahoe Bread and Broth program.

Our best picks of the show:

Bighorn Cellars 1999 Camelback Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay ($14.50); Tommasi 2001 Le Rosse Pinot Grigio, Italy ($12.99); Granite Springs Vineyards 1999 El Dorado County Petite Syrah ($22); Pedroncelli 1999 Bench Vineyard Sonoma Merlot ($14); and Reynolds Vineyard 2001 Shiraz, Orange, Australia (Best value! $9.99)

Roger and Colleen Stockton are wine educators and consultants based in Northern Nevada. They may be reached at (775) 882-7324 or

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