The Novice Foodie Experiences the St. Louis Food & Wine Experience

When Iron Stef said she could score cheap tickets to the St. Louis Food & Wine Experience, a fundraiser for the Repertory Theatre of St Louis, I thought: Why not? I need no excuse to tip a few back on a Sunday afternoon. When she noted they were VIP tickets, my highbrow sensibilities were anticipatory. Finally, a chance to be around my people: very important people.

These are not my people.

Don't get me wrong. It's definitely cool to see a giant ballroom full of friendly people wanting to pour you a glass of wine in exchange for nothing but a smile. And it's definitely cool to leave the hubbub of said ballroom to go to another giant room filled with more people who want to give you more wine and food. But the Novice Foodie knows very little about wine, and that's intentional. I just don't get into wine. I will never be someone who seeks out particular vintages or varietals or studies the nuances of nose. I just don't care. And if you are one of those people, you are undoubtedly a lovely person, and that's great that you're into wine. It's just not my thing. I will drink almost anything you put in front of me, but given the option, I'd prefer that what you put in front of me is beer.

Nor is it my thing to wear Zubaz with wine bottles on them, but that's neither here nor there.

The other thing about the Food & Wine Experience is that it is really all about wine. The food is all catered by Schnucks or their suppliers. If you are VIP, this means a veritable buffet of meat. Prime rib, pork ribs, tuna, salmon, crab cakes, salami, lamb chops for your carnivorous snacking. It's like a giant grocery store with copious samples. This is good if you need to line your stomach with animal protein before consuming your next round of wine shots but not exciting if you came for the "food" part of "Food & Wine Experience."

Then there's the spit deal. If you aren't in the know, it's fairly obvious that tasting beaucoup wines in a relatively brief span of time is likely to lead to intoxication. Quickly. To alleviate copious puking and/or spontaneous stripping in the Chase lobby, you're encouraged to taste the wine, spit it back out into your glass, then pour your backwash into small buckets conveniently located at each vendor's booth. I just can't get too comfortable when surrounded by that much backwash, which means I drink most of my tastes, which means I really had to pace myself. I did see a guy just spit right into a bucket, not his own cup. Is that cool? I don't even know if that's legitimate behavior.

Like I said, I was out of my element.

But hey, the Novice Foodie is all about new experiences. I sniffed and swished and swirled along with the crowd, gnawed my share of ribs and had a great time. But for my money, I'm going with beer-tasting festivals.

They're my people.
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