‘Cougar Meets Italy’ in unique wine tasting event

Pete Anderson, a winemaker and Italian wine and grape expert working out of Witch Creek Winery in Carlsbad, sniffs a glass of vermentino during the 2017 Cougar Meets Italy. The third annual event is scheduled for Jan. 17 and 18. Kim Harris photo

A quiet peacefulness falls across the room as sommeliers make their way around the long tables adorned with snow-white table cloths. The bow tie-wearing sommeliers speak in hushed tones as they discuss the wines they pour for those in attendance who will ultimately pass judgement as to which blends of vino they like the best.

It sounds like a scene from a movie produced by Hollywood elite, but it’s not. It’s Cougar Meets Italy, the boutique winery’s signature event now in its third year of offering a true wine-tasting experience.

Every year at the end of January, Cougar Vineyard & Winery pits their unique varietals against their Italian counterparts in a side-by-side, double-blind tasting event, one that is truly entertaining as professional judges swirl, sniff and spit out their samples, evaluating every aspect of the wines served.

Based off the 2008 movie “Bottle Shock,” the true story of the now infamous, blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 known as the “Judgement of Paris,” Cougar Meets Italy kicks off 6 p.m., Jan. 17, with a viewing of the movie, a complimentary glass of wine and all the popcorn they can eat.

“Bottle Shock,” is a humorous and inspiring movie that will leave those in attendance cheering for the underdog wineries of Napa Valley and the snooty, yet endearing, Paris-based wine expert Steven Spurrier played by the late Alan Rickman.

The following night, head back out to Cougar Vineyard & Winery for the official tasting and judging event which pits five wines from Cougar against five of their Italian counterparts.

The fun begins as those in attendance get to judge the wines alongside the professional judges. A quick tutorial on judging using the University of California Davis’ 20-point system is given at the start of the double-blind tasting, which is followed by a four-course dinner.

This two-day event can’t be missed.

To purchase tickets to Cougar Meets Italy, call (951) 767-8529, send an email to [email protected] or secure a spot in person by visiting the winery.

Cougar Vineyard & Winery is located at 39870 DePortola Road in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. The tasting room is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays or by appointment. To learn more about the Italian varietals produced at Cougar, call (951) 491-0825 or visit www.cougarvineyards.com.

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