Getting Ready for a Garlicky Trip to Gilroy… With Wine

Organic garlic on wooden backgroundIf you’ve started to think about weekend getaways this summer, there’s one event you should put at or near the top of your list: the 38th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, to be held July 29-31 in the California community of Gilroy.

On the festival’s website, you’ll find a list of the Top 10 Gilroy Garlic Festival Attractions. I lean heavily toward No. 8, but here is the complete list:

  1. Great garlicky food from Gourmet Alley
  1. Free garlic ice cream
  1. Flame-ups by Gourmet Alley pyro chefs
  1. Garlic Cook-off stage
  1. 100 arts and crafts vendors
  1. Children’s Area and Teen Zone
  1. Gourmet Alley demonstration stage
  1. Wine Pavilion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  1. Amphitheater
  1. Garlic mercantile shops

Full disclosure: Those 38 exclamation marks (one for each year of the festival) included in No. 8 were added by me; they were not part of the list shown on the website.

I have a vivid family memory about the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I was writing a syndicated wine column at the time, and attended the festival to glean some material for a column or two. I’d heard there was wine tasting offered, and that’s all I needed to spring into ticket-buying action.

What I did not know was that there was a local winery that made “garlic wine.” I recall sampling a white wine that was infused with garlic. It was made by Rapazzini Winery, and it definitely tasted like garlic.

Following wine-related trips, I’d often stop by my folks’ house and drop off a few bottles that I’d picked up along the way. After that trip, I opened up a bottle of garlic wine, but did not tell my folks what it was. (We often played the game of, “Can you name that wine?”)

I poured glasses for Mom and Dad. Mom continued to work on preparing dinner while Dad took a sip. He came this close to spitting it out as he scrunched his face into what looked like a squeezed ball of Play-Dough.

“What the hell is that?” he demanded, which was quite a question since Dad never said words like hell.

I told him it was garlic wine, and he gave me a glare that basically communicated: “Don’t ever do something like that to me again.”

It was a memorable father and adult son bonding moment.

I actually kind of liked the wine — not necessarily as a wine, but as a beverage to accompany a garlic-infused main course.

Today, Rapazzini makes a garlic-infused white wine, a garlic-infused red wine, plus both red and white garlic cooking wines. If you have an open mind and perhaps are just a little bit adventurous, they’re certainly worth a try.

And the Gilroy Garlic Festival is definitely worth checking out.

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Tomorrow: Pairing (non-garlic-infused) wine with garlicky food.

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Posted in Editor's Journal, Wine Buzz
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