Great Grape Journey

Austin oenophiles explore wondrous world of wine at 11th annual Tour de Vin

Austin oenophiles explore wondrous world of wine at Tour de Vin

Giocato Pinot Grigio at Tour de Vin in Austin
One of the more exotic Tour de Vin wines was a Giocato Pinot Grigio from Slovenia. Corkbin.com
Ricotta from Olive and June at Tour de Vin in Austin
Ricotta ravioli from Olive & June restaurant. Photo by Kristi Willis
Trace venison heart tartare at Tour de Vin in Austin
Venison heart tartare from Trace restaurant. Photo by Kristi Willis
Cocktail from Drink.Well at Tour de Vin in Austin
Cocktail from Drink.Well at Tour de Vin. Photo by Kristi Willis
Giocato Pinot Grigio at Tour de Vin in Austin
Ricotta from Olive and June at Tour de Vin in Austin
Trace venison heart tartare at Tour de Vin in Austin
Cocktail from Drink.Well at Tour de Vin in Austin

On August 23, hundreds of grape-loving Austinites embarked on a tour around the globe at the 11th annual Tour de Vin, a tasting of international wines hosted by the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas. Guests wound their way through the ballrooms at the W Austin, sipping vintages from Italy, France, Germany, Spain, North and South America, and Australia.

The Austin Wine Merchant arranged for an eclectic collection of wines for the event, making it an ideal venue for new wine enthusiasts to explore unfamiliar varietals and styles. One of the more exotic wines was a Giocato Pinot Grigio from Slovenia, a country with a long winemaking tradition but few exports outside of the region.

While enjoying their wine, guests sampled dishes from more than a dozen area restaurants, including Trace, Swift’s Attic, Olive & June, Epicerie, Noble Sandwich Company, Bonneville, Max’s Wine Dive and Freedmen’s. Austin’s popular food trucks got in on the action, with Tapas Bravas, Chi’lantro and DFG Noodles providing bites.

The surprising combination of strawberries and lardo from Swift’s Attic caused quite a stir, as did the tender, smoky pulled pork from Freedmen’s and the venison heart tartare from Trace. The creamy ricotta ravioli from chef Shawn Cirkiel of Olive & June paired perfectly with the wines poured from Italy. The Du Bois Cobbler wine-based cocktail from Drink.Well was a delightful change of pace with a splash of Tiki bitters, peach and mint.

New to the event this year was a room dedicated solely to Asian cuisine. “We have had an expansion of inventive, Asian-inspired cuisine around Austin,” said foundation president Mark Shilling. “We wanted to highlight that at the event and show how well it pairs with certain wines.” German Rieslings were poured in that room as a refreshing match for the often saltier, sometimes spicy food.

Proceeds from the event benefited Austin Food For Life, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to helping food and beverage industry professionals access affordable healthcare. One silent auction item was donated by Uchiko specifically to raise money for Leah Ortiz, one of the restaurant's servers, who was recently injured in a motorcycle accident. The $1,000 donated for the private dinner will help defer Ortiz’s mounting medical bills.

Tour de Vin is one in a series of cultural and educational events hosted throughout the year by the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas, and it is an excellent way to explore the world of food and wine without packing a bag.