The Top Tips for Navigating Taste WA: What to Eat, Drink

Julien Perry

Taste WA is this weekend and if you haven't scored tickets yet, you best hurry. 

Now in its 17th year, the two-day event manages to shove in quite an impressive number of food and wine vendors under one roof (226 wineries, 68 restaurants), making this shindig slightly overwhelming. Joining me now to help navigate you towards the “can’t miss” spots is Paul Zitarelli, who covers Washington wine for Seattle Magazine.

Here are his picks for:

5 New Wineries to Check Out

  • Echo Ridge Cellars – estate fruit from a vineyard formerly owned by Drew Bledsoe, made into wine by Billo Naravane of Rasa Vineyards.
  • Kevin White Winery – incredible values for Rhone varieties and blends.
  • Proper Wines – funky Syrah from the Walla Walla rocks.
  • Savage Grace Wines – lean, intense, vibrant homages to the Loire Valley.
  • W.T. Vintners – RN74’s sommelier Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen applies his formidable palate to this new winery.

10 Tried and True Wineries Not to Miss

  • Betz Family Winery – a Woodinville legend with a tradition of consistent excellence.
  • Cadence – elegant, ageworthy expressions of Red Mountain.
  • Dunham Cellars – a Walla Walla stalwart with strong wines at a wide range of price points.
  • Gramercy Cellars – low-alc, vibrant, earthy wines, with a reputation built on stunning Syrahs.
  • Memaloose – grapes from the cool Columbia Gorge lead to wines with pulsating intensity at low alcohols.
  • Nefarious Cellars – the flagship winery of Lake Chelan, offering rare opportunities to taste wines from this AVA.
  • Seven Hills Winery – a classic Walla Walla producer, with wines that have seemingly immortal aging curves.
  • Soos Creek Wine Cellars – Dave Larsen quietly releases vintage after vintage of tremendous values, especially the single vineyard blends.
  • Syncline – best known for spreading the gospel of Rhone varieties, but their white wines and sparkling wines are equally compelling.
  • Woodward Canyon – easily a Mt. Rushmore-level winery, with wines as good as their history is long.

3 Etiquette Tips

  • Have a plan. With hundreds of wineries pouring, there’s no way to taste everything. Take some time out ahead of the event to plan out which wineries you’re most interested in targeting.
  • Keep moving. Taste Washington is an event for five-minute conversations, not twenty. Keep an eye on the crowd behind you, and if you start to hear muttering, it’s probably time to proceed to the next table.
  • Don’t be the biggest drunk in the room. Spit all the wines you taste, hydrate constantly, and take advantage of all the delicious food.

Here are the Top 5 bites I’m most looking forward to checking out:

  • RN74 — bacon deviled eggs. The smoked salmon deviled eggs at RN74 are some of my favorites, so how could these be any less stellar?
  • Hollywood Tavern — smoked Aji Amarillo honey chicken wings. I'm a big fan of any fried food the Huxley Wallace team puts out. 
  • Palace Kitchen (Sunday only) — red wine braised oxtail on potato blini, pickled radish, spring garlic. The Tom Douglas team rarely disappoints at these type of events, and this dish in particular sounds pretty wonderful. 
  • Crisp Creperie — The Salty Sea Captain (vanilla bean, dark chocolate, salted caramel, rye whiskey). The boozy shakes at this food truck are fantastic. If the two guys behind the award-winning food truck are serving (Evan and Johnathan), expect to be entertained (and ladies, swept off your feet). 
  • Aragona (Sunday only) — xuxos: crispy fried pastry stuffed with vanilla cream and dusted with truffle salt. I order these every single time I'm at Aragona. These are simply some of the best little dessert nuggets in all the land. 

Taste WA runs Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at CenturyLink Field Event Center. You can download the complete program online.