The pain endured during the summer months in Phoenix always, thankfully, comes full circle during the fall and winter months. Call it climate karma.
Triple-digits yield to overnight lows in the 70s and balmy, breezy daytime climes ideally suited to eating and drinking. That’s every fall, an annual crop of outstanding outdoor events paint our social calendar like the Arizona Taco Festival in Scottsdale, Oktoberfest at Tempe Town Lake, and the Carefree Fine Art and Wine Festival.
Events like these remind us why we love the Valley like we do, and offer ample toasting opportunities to profess our affection. The Arizona Taco Festival, as an example, includes the breathtaking Tequila Expo, where 30 producers pour more than 100 varieties of our favorite agave-based elixir. Spend an hour, or two, finding your new favorite house pour then fuel your curiosity with a cooking class or howling at the entertaining lucha libre wrestlers.
Mark your calendar now for these great upcoming Arizona drinking events, and make plans for a designated or Uber driver. Cheers!
• Oktoberfest at Tempe Town Lake. What started as a kitschy nod to Bavaria’s iconic drinkfest in sleepy Old Town Tempe in 1973 has grown up into a full-fledge lederhosen- and hefeweizen-fueled three-day party complete with polka music, a carnival, wiener dog races and giant steins of frothy brews. Local beer producer Four Peaks is the title sponsor, so naturally their products are readily available, but, there are also brews from Germany like Warsteiner, Konig Ludwig and Beck’s. Oct. 9-11 at Tempe Town Lake, Tempe. Admission is free. Click here for more info.
• Arizona Taco Festival. One of the Valley’s premier eating and drinking events. Period. What’s not to like about dozens of local restaurants doling out $2 tacos, hilarious eating contests, popping beats, dressed up Chihuahuas and throngs of happy people? Nothing. And the kicker is the aforementioned Tequila Expo. Take my advice on this and pay the extra fee for admission to the Tequila Expo. Just some of the top-shelf brands represented last year: Casa Noble, Corralejo, Herradura, El Jimador, Tres Generaciones, among others. Oct. 17 and 18 at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. General Admission costs $12, Tequila Expo $20. Click here for more info.
• Certified Local Fall Festival. Celebrate all things local to The Grand Canyon State, including some of Arizona’s best restaurants, food trucks and delicious viticultural treats. More than 100 vendors in all showcased their wares last year, including the coffees, wines, brews and spirits of Arizona Distilling Company of Tempe, Colados Coffee of Avondale, Dos Cabezas Wine Works of Sonoita, Sun Up Brewing of Phoenix and more. Nov. 14 at Portland Parkway in downtown Phoenix. Admission is free. Click here for more info.
• 22nd Annual Carefree Fine Art and Wine Festival. Make the drive to this picture-perfect part of town to nourish both the mind and body. Choose from a selection of fine wines including several from Arizona like Zarapara, Aridus and Arizona Stronghold and meander among 5,000 original works of art from more than 165 artists in a variety of style and mediums. Nov. 6-8 at the corner of HoHum and Easy Streets in downtown Carefree. Admission costs $3; six wine tasting tickets and souvenir glass $10. Click here for more info.
CHEERS TO WEEKEND BRUNCH
Cooler temperatures also ring in weekend brunch season in the Valley, which must include Champagne or sparkling wine. One recent find is the 2011 Brut Cuvee from Domaine Carneros by Taittinger. Yes, Taittinger of French fame has left an indelible imprint on this NorCal original with its 50-50 blend of sparkling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and lovely citrus, pear and pineapple impressions. This wine is finely balanced with tiny bubbles and rewarding finish. $33. Available at fine local retailers like Total Wine & More, BevMo and AJ’s Fine Foods.
Contact Drinks Editor Mark Nothaft via e-mail and click here and follow him on Twitter. Subscribe to his frequent columns on Examiner and click here.