The Bubbly is Really Flowing at Sun WineFest
The annual Sun Wine and Food Fest at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, is the state's largest wine and food event and a must for any New Englander who loves to imbibe and indulge. Tickets are selling fast for Sun Wine and Food Fest '18, which runs January 26-28, 2018. The Grand Tasting on Saturday features the chance to sample hundreds of brands of wine and beer, plus chef appearances and cooking demonstrations.
This photo tour from my 2010 visit to Sun WineFest will provide you with a preview of the event.
I started my day at Sun WineFest '10 on January 30, 2010 with a nice glass of Barefoot Bubbly Moscato Spumante. Who says wine isn't for breakfast? In these photos, I'll take you along as I report on my first visit to WineFest and share tips to help you make the most of attending the 2016 event.
Lunch Break: Mini Lobster Roll
After sampling four wines before noon, I was already in the mood for food. Food tickets at the Sun WineFest at Mohegan Sun cost $1 each in 2010, and this VERY mini lobster roll, served by Cuvee, was five tickets. It may have been tiny, but it was tasty.
There are some free foods to sample at Sun WineFest '10, too. My favorite so far: a peppery goat cheese made by Lebanon, Connecticut-based Beltane Farm. I learned that Beltane Farm hosts open houses for families on Sundays in May complete with opportunities to see goats and baby cows and to learn about the cheese-making process.
The Sun WineFest Main Stage
The main stage at Sun WineFest '10 at Mohegan Sun is really impressive. This is Saturday's Chef Showdown. I'm looking forward to seeing Todd English cook this afternoon.
Grape Stomp at Sun WineFest
The Grape Stomp sponsored by [yellow tail] at the Sun WineFest at Mohegan Sun Casino was fun to watch. Grape stomping did not look easy. This team, named "The Grapeful Dead," won the first heat.
Colossal Shrimp and Sauvignon Blanc
As I walked around Sun WineFest '10 with these colossal cocktail shrimp, several people stopped me to ask where I'd found them. The answer: Jasper White's raw bar in the back right corner of the main convention center tasting hall. (White also has the wonderful Summer Shack Restaurant at Mohegan Sun).
Three shrimp set me back five food tickets ($5), but the wines I paired with them were free, of course. I started with this Hanna Sauvignon Blanc, but I preferred the Starborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, which I tried, as well. It was my favorite white of the day: bright, crisp and citrusy.
In total, I managed to sample 11 or 12 wines at the Grand Tasting: I lost count!
Discovering Wines Made in New England at Sun WineFest
There were hundreds of wines from all over the world available for tasting at Sun WineFest '10, but for me, one of the event's pleasures was discovering wines made right here in New England that I hadn't encountered before. Most memorable: Apfel Eis, an apple ice wine made by Still River Winery in Harvard, Massachusetts. When I asked if this fruity, yet not-too-sweet dessert wine incorporated Massachusetts-grown apples, the answer was: "Of course!"
Learn Cooking Tricks and Culinary Tidbits from Celebrity Chefs
Cooking demonstrations run throughout Sun WineFest, the largest wine and food event in Connecticut. I learned a few interesting things while watching celebrity chefs in action. Mary Ann Esposito (pictured above), host of
Christina Pirello, host of PBS's Christina Cooks Naturally, shared this interesting tidbit while preparing Crispy Tofu and Artichokes with Radish Salad: "Ancient Romans believed eating artichokes would make you live forever."
A Beer Crowd (and a Young Crowd) at WineFest
I thought it was crowded and loud on the floor of the main tasting hall at Sun WineFest '10. That was before I discovered--after four hours of sipping wines--that the beer tasting portion of the event was taking place on the Upper Level Meeting Room floor. Boy, were those rooms packed to the gills with would-be beer tasters, and the line-up of beers to sample was impressive considering the event's focus on wine.
I was surprised not only that WineFest attracted a beer crowd, but that it attracted such a young crowd of 20-somethings, since the cost of a Grand Tasting one-day pass was a steep $70.
Quite a Crowd
By 2 p.m. Saturday, the sold-out Sun WineFest '10 was so packed that it was almost impossible to move through the aisles, and navigating from wine booth to wine booth required plenty of patience. As the 5 p.m. conclusion of Saturday's Grand Tasting approached, there was still a large crowd of imbibers, as you can see in this photo.
Tickets for Sunday were not sold out as of that morning, so I expect the crowd was a bit lighter. If you're planning to attend a future Sun WineFest, you may find that Sunday is the better day to go, and you should definitely plan to arrive as early as possible to avoid the largest crowds. You may even want to taste from noon until 2 p.m., take a breather, and then return for the event's final hour or two in order to avoid the worst of the congestion.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary lodging and admission for the purpose of reviewing this event. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. Ethics Policy