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New York Wine and Culinary Center
Terry Sullivan

After visiting more than fifty wineries my wife and I were interested in a different half- day escapade. We heard about the New York Wine and Culinary Center on our trip to several Finger Lakes wineries. We decided to take the 90 minute US RT 20 ride through the countryside and small towns to Canandaigua.

Built for 7.5 million dollars, the New York Wine and Culinary Center opened in June 2006. The purpose of the center is to promote New York State wines and foods. The New York Wine and Culinary Center is located within feet of glistening, blue Canandaigua Lake. More than 60,000 visitors have come to enjoy the center in the first five months since opening.

The New York Wine and Culinary Center looked impressive from the outside. Newly planted fruit trees, grape vines, and shrubbery enhanced the walkways leading from the parking lot to the front of the building.



As we entered the dark wood double doors of the center, two women greeted us, eager to share their knowledge of the Wine and Culinary Center. They invited us to take a guided tour of the facility. They suggested that we participate in one or more the demonstration classes or the hands-on classes; fees are charged for the classes. We chose to take part in a Wine and Food Pairing class. Since we had a couple of hours before the class began, we walked around by ourselves before joining a tour at 12:30.


The first area we entered was the education area. The displays were informative, however rather sparse. Photographs and a rotating video screen showed the beauty of New York State agriculture. It would have been nice to see the room twice this size with one half representing New York agriculture and one half representing the New York wine industry. Three-dimensional displays would have also been a good addition.

Our next stop was the tasting room. The wine tasting room, the largest of the rooms, has the ambience of warm wood walls. Behind the tasting bar, we saw an unusual decanter in the shape of a duck. It was beautiful to look at, but would it be functional? While a single tasting cost two dollars, a flight of tastes ranged from four to seven dollars. Unlike many wine tastings where you receive a list of wines available to taste, we decided on a flight. This concept made it easy to compare the wines for aroma, flavor and color. We did not have to wait and walked right up to a server.

One of my first impressions is that wines from all the regions of New York State are featured in different wine flights. If you cannot visit over two hundred wineries, this is a great wine tasting room to try out. Each week the choices of wine flights change. The New York Wine and Culinary Center sells bottles of wine but does not sell cases of wine because they do not want to compete with New York wineries.

My wife opted to taste two wines from a sweet wine flight, while I decided to taste the dry red wines flight. Placemats were placed in front of us with names of the wines, descriptions, and the wineries that made the wines. Five glasses were placed on my placemat. Our server poured wine into each glass. Seeing all five wines at the same time added to the experience and one can compare and contrast at their leisure.





The highlight of the visit was a demonstration on food and wine pairings. Arriving a few minutes early, we watched through large windows as the educational theater was prepared for our class. While we waited, another wine taster standing nearby heard us mention Maryland wineries. We discovered she lived in Maryland within just a few miles of our home. What a small world!

Our instructor was quite the wine enthusiast and her enthusiasm was catchy. We once again had a placemat with circles on it and three wine glasses with the wines featured for this tasting. The participants tasted and commented on each wine: Chardonnay, Riesling, and a Pinot Noir. Participants had different likes and dislikes. Next we were served a pear half with the center filled with a goat cheese mixture and topped with proscuitto ham. We were instructed to take a bite, then taste one of the wines, take notes, and then repeat the process.

I decided that the pear didn’t help the Chardonnay and was overpowered by the Pinot Noir. However the fruit aftertaste from the pear and the fruit aftertaste from the Riesling complemented each other. The majority of the participants preferred the Riesling with the pear, however; there were a couple of participants who liked the Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Our instructor opened the floor for a Q and A. She answered a wide variety of questions.

“What is the best wine for gift giving?” asked my wife.

The answer, “Sparkling wine. Every now and then people have special moments to celebrate and a bottle of sparkling wine is meant to go with those occasions.”

“What should you do if you and your significant other do not like the same wine for dinner?”

Answer: “Open two bottles.” Laughter rippled through the audience.

The New York Wine and Culinary Center has a lounge on the second floor. A long flight of solid pine wood stairs takes you to the second floor. Here you can enjoy a selection of fine New York State foods and wines.

The New York Wine and Culinary Center is a delightful place to spend several hours. Take an opportunity to enjoy a relaxing afternoon and savor the delights of New York State.

New York Wine and Culinary Center
800 South Main Street
Canandaigua, New York 14424



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