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Can Pennsylvania Wines Compete Against California Releases?

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Whether you’re a loyal Pennsylvania wine fanatic, or you’re desperately due to give our neighborhood winescape an honest chance, Berwyn’s Nectar Restaurant is hosting the ultimate blind test of East vs. West Coast, and all area oenophiles are invited.

On Sun., July 13, at 5 p.m., in-house certified sommelier Scott Zoccolillo has dreamed up the mightiest swirl-worthy battle, where he’ll pit an array of Keystone State wines against celebrated California reds and whites. The event itself was inspired by 1976’s infamous Judgment of Paris showcase, where California wines triumphed over French wines in a blind taste test, and which ultimately put West Coast wineries on the map.

But why is the notable sommelier pushing PA wine—and forever raving about it? “I always wanted to put a local wine list together,” revealed Zoccolillo. Since joining the Berwyn-based team, he’s curated a trustworthy, extensive wine list that touts 28 different countries and 8 states. Now, after gaining regional wine connoisseurs’ trust, he’s on a mission to challenge local palates by weaving esteemed bottle releases of the Keystone State into the restaurant’s collection, and opening their minds to give PA wine a fair chance.

How did he start this recent selection expansion? “Whenever a guest would order a wine, I would offer a Pennsylvania wine at the same price point only to be met with resistance and strange looks,” he shared. “I would bring out their bottle, as well as the Pennsylvania bottle and pour them 2 tastes, not telling them which was which and let them decide which one they preferred in this impromptu blind taste test. More often than not—I’d say two-thirds of the time—the guest would prefer the Pennsylvania wine. This blind test has opened up many of our guests’ eyes to these wines and our list has taken off since then.”

For his upcoming Judgement Day event, Philadelphia area wine authorities will also join the party aside local wine lovers—all to help judge the heated blind tasting. Better yet, PA winemakers, cheesemakers and farmers will also elevate the experience, showcasing samplings of their fine-tuned products to attendees as they sniff, swirl and sip. Of course, Nectar’s acclaimed chef Patrick Feury will be create a dynamic menu of passed hor d’oeuvres to surprise and entice guests as they critically review the day’s whites and reds.     

“My goal [for the Judgement Day event] is when a wine buyer walks into a state store and is reaching for a California wine in a certain price point, they will at the very least consider the Pennsylvania wine,” revealed Scott. “If that happens, then we have accomplished something.”

Cost is $65 per person, which includes tastings of the all the battling wines, nibbles from chef Patrick Feury, and samples from local cheesemakers and farmers. To reserve your spot at the wine showdown, visit www.tastenectar.com or call (610) 725–9000.