Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade serves up a pour from his Wade Cellars Rosé during the first of five Grand Tastings in the west tent at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic in Wagner Park Friday morning.

With day one of the Food & Wine Classic in the books, we rounded up some of the best, most essential — and, at times, provocative — tips of the trade from scores of renowned chefs, distributors, wine connoisseurs and Dwyane Wade.

A common theme from throughout the day? Never conform to conventional notions and basically do whatever you want.

From microwaving lemons to sipping whiskey, below are our highlights. Cheers!


Chill your red

Location: The Little Nell terrace, early morning

Although perhaps controversial, Food & Wine writer Jonathan Cristaldi is unwavering in his position on the matter.

“Stop drinking warm red wine,” Cristaldi said when asked his No. 1 piece of advice for wine drinkers. “Put your red wine on ice. It’s way more enjoyable.”

Cristaldi’s perfect level of chill may also be achieved with a 20- to 30-minute stint in the refrigerator.

“When you go to a party in the summer and someone hands you a warm glass of red, it makes you want to curl up in a ball and take a nap …  You’re doing a disservice to the wine. And your guests.”

Cristaldi, who was called a “Wine Prophet” by Time Out New York, noted this tip is not season- or summer-specific.

“This should be a year-round goal,” Cristaldi said. “Chill your red wine.”


Throw out the rule book

Location: Grand Tasting, mid-morning

A ribeye and rosé  pairing? Perfectly acceptable — at least, according to Beth Cotenoff of Rioja Wines. “Don’t be afraid to pair rosé with non-conventional (pairings),” Cotentoff said, listing grilled meats, hamburgers and steaks as examples. “If you like the dish and you like the wine, anything can go together.”

Well, maybe not anything — eclectic and nontraditional pairings depend somewhat on the style of rosé, she said.

Asked her thoughts on chilling red, Cotentoff smirked and pointed to a few bottles of red peeking out of an ice-filled bucket.



Location: Grand Tasting, mid-morning

“My biggest tip is be open,” said Dwyane Wade. One of the most famous NBA players of all time, Wade launched his own California-based wine label, Wade Cellars, in 2015. “There’s so much great wine out there and [from] so many different regions and so many different countries, don’t be afraid to try something outside the box … sometimes we get stuck in our box.”

Wade’s passion for fine wine and food was fueled his teammates, Chris Bosh and Lebron James, according to Wade Cellars’ website.


Drink horizontally and stay dry

Location: Grand Tasting, mid-morning

For bacchanals such as the Classic, commit to a varietal of wine and make a conscious effort to stick to it, said Aspen local and longtime Food & Wine-goer Oliver Sharpe.

In other words, if pinot grigio is your juice of choice for the morning, seek other pinots and avoid straying too far from the regularly scheduled programming.  

“I think I’ve acquired this [lesson] over the years from maybe not doing that,” said Sharpe, who’s stuck [and not stuck] to particular varietals for 15 or so Food & Wine Classics in Aspen.

Also, Sharpe noted, refrain from running through the fountain after the Grand Tasting if you intend to partake in afternoon sessions.



Whiskey is not wine

Location: Grand Tasting, mid-morning

Sampling whiskey should not at all be treated like tasting wine, cautioned Winston Edwards of Waco, Texas-based Balconies Distilling. In fact, in some senses, it is the opposite.

For starters, do not swirl your whiskey, Edwards said. Inhale whiskey gently — smelling your whiskey like wine, or too aggressively, will result in a diminished sense of smell due to the alcohols, he said.

Chugging whiskey also is not advisable.

“Sip it like a hot tea,” Edwards said. “Hold it in your mouth and let it touch all of the palates.”


Let reposado be

Location: Grand Tasting, late-morning

“Anything brown, you let it be,” said Dave Gardner of the New York-based Tequila brand JAJA. An ice cube is about all one should add to tequila reposado, Gardner said. “Just because you want to enjoy the aging process.”

For tequila blanco? “The world is yours,” Gardner said. “That’s what I recommend doing shots of.”

A shot and a beer, or tequila blanco mixed with nearly anything, also works.  


Use, and refrigerate, good butter

Location: Grand Tasting, late-morning

The secret ingredient to the “flakiest, most decadent” pastry work — and in particular, pie crusts — is cold, cubed butter, said Amanda Welsh of the Kerrygold brand. Butter also should not be left at room temperature for more than four hours, she said.

While more people may stray away from butter and dairy altogether today, Welsh emphasizes its role in proper baking. She pointed to her company’s origins in Ireland, where butter plates garnish most restaurant tables.

“It’s such an ode to Irish culture as well,” Welsh said. “No meal is complete without butter.”

Microwave lemons

Location: St. Regis, mid-afternoon

Lemons offer the most juice when at room temperature, said Claudine Pepin, a culinary mogul and daughter of the renowned French chef, Jacques Pepin.

If your lemons are cold from the fridge, pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds, Pepin advised a few hundred people for the packed seminar, “A Meal from Provence,” alongside her famous father. “You can get a lot more juice out of them,” she said.


Know your herbs

Location: St. Regis, mid-afternoon

Sprinkle herbs into your dish toward the end, as opposed to the beginning, of your preparation, Claudine said. Adding herbs too early can enable them to lose their flavor, she said.

Jacques Pepin’s herbal advice? Buy French tarragon, not Russian tarragon.

And always buy fresh, not freezer-dried, herbs, Claudine said.

Another quirky herb tidbit: One pound of saffron requires 40,000 flowers.

Erica Robbie is the arts and entertainment editor for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at erica@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @ericarobbie.