• Sunday , 21 January 2018

Golden Nugget Delights Palates with Cal-Ital Winefest

by Cassie Hepler

The Golden Nugget Casino brought the best of both California and Italian wines to the Jersey Shore for their annual Cal-Ital Summer Winefest the last weekend of August. This two-day wine festival featured tasty buffets, cool jazz and unlimited free flowing wine for guests to sip, swirl and sample.

The victorious vino celebration kicked off on Friday, August 28th with a Wine & Jazz Reception held under the stars on The Event Lawn where guests mingled with winery ambassadors, wine makers and wine enthusiasts.

We headed out to The Grand Tasting on the following Saturday night, tempted by the option to sample more than 120 wines from the world’s most prestigious producers. Arriving with the early bird VIP ticket allowed guests to get at the food and fun first. Before the doors opened at 6 p.m., a salt and pepper comped line stretched down the hallway. When doors opened, everyone delved into the food and then into the Brunello’s, Cabernet’s, Chianti’s, Chardonnay’s, Barolo’s, Barbaresco’s and more. A complimentary Golden Nugget 5-piece wine bottle set was allegedly offered, however we couldn’t locate them nor could couples we talked with. But keepsake glasses were given to each guest to use and keep along with a “passport” of all the wines to take notes and get stamped with which ones you sampled.

While tasting all the wines was virtually impossible (for us at least), we went for our faves which included crisp and bubbly whites and dark and decadent reds. Smooth, soothing sounds of Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Grover Washington and Billy Joel lingered though the air with a live jazz band. A 4-hour wine tasting is pretty hardcore so we went out in the hallway and grabbed a seat for a while to recharge as hightop tables scattered through the ballroom for eating but no seating was available (next time, no heels!). Golden Nugget water bottles sprinkled at the end of every island of wine bottles to keep hydrated helped too.

Our suggestion for next year? Wear sneakers and bring something to sit on! Or just stay in the hotel as a retired couple did. They went up to watch the Eagles game early but little did they know, they would show it on the big screens in the ballroom later in the night.

Overall it was a relaxing, fun time and you may even find yourself slow dancing to some songs with a happy, mellow wine buzz. Hotel reservations and additional information are available by calling 800-777-8477 or by visiting www.goldennugget.com.

Taking the escalator up at The Golden Nugget led to this telltale sign.

Taking the escalator up at The Golden Nugget led to this telltale sign.

After checking tickets, these ladies were waiting to give out passports and keepsake wineglasses to VIP early guests.

After checking tickets, these ladies were waiting to give out passports and keepsake wineglasses to VIP early guests.

Each glass was engraved with Cal-Ital keepsakes.

Each glass was engraved with Cal-Ital keepsakes.

Into the grand ballroom, it's red - just like wine.

Into the grand ballroom, it’s red – just like wine.

Some of the tasty selection toward the food buffets flanking each side.

Some of the tasty selection toward the food buffets flanking each side.

Some grape "leaves" decorate the table as guests browse.

Some grape “leaves” decorate the table as guests browse.

Going over a great wine list is always key.

Going over a great wine list is always key.

Beans and artichokes were replenished in record time.

Beans and artichokes were replenished in record time.

First you load up on the buffet options before boozing begins.

First you load up on the buffet options before boozing begins.

This was our favorite on the buffet - scallops infused with corn and beef skewers.

This was our favorite on the buffet – scallops infused with corn and beef skewers.

We could have eaten these all night, however the tiny brie with mango chutney sandwiches were also a hit.

We could have eaten these all night, however the tiny brie with mango chutney sandwiches were also a hit.

A delicious red with cherry tones was offered by Ruffino.

A delicious red with cherry tones was offered by Ruffino.

With so many options, it was overwhelming at first.

With so many options, it was overwhelming at first.

But we jumped in and began the tasting process.

But we jumped in and began the tasting process.

A tasty white and tempting red exist in harmony.

A tasty white and tempting red exist in harmony.

This gentleman enjoyed a hearty pour.

This gentleman enjoyed a hearty pour.

Stamping this woman's passport was part of the process of the night.

Stamping this woman’s passport was part of the process of the night.

We spotted bubbles and began to fall in love.

We spotted bubbles and began to fall in love.

A clean, crisp and refreshing processo was quite addicting.

A clean, crisp and refreshing Italian processo was quite addicting.

People were flocking to this table in droves, it almost became a elbow-shoving mosh pit!

People were flocking to this table in droves, it almost became a elbow-shoving mosh pit!

We soon found out why, this amazing Mascato with a mix of champagne.

We soon found out why, this amazing Mascato with a mix of champagne.

The bubbles always make a beautiful pour.

The bubbles always make a beautiful pour.

The second best at the table, it was sweet and delicious too but not as bubbly.

The second best at the table, it was sweet and delicious too but not as bubbly.

We're pretty sure Astoria won the popularity contest as it was almost out of moscato way before the end of the night.

We’re pretty sure Astoria won the popularity contest as it was almost out of moscato way before the end of the night.

Canti was another amazing bubbly with of course other tasty options.

Canti was another amazing bubbly with of course other tasty options too.

The live jazz band were a nice addition to the night but hard to hear at points over the murmur of people talking and the Eagles game.

The live jazz band were a nice addition to the night but hard to hear at points over the murmur of people talking and the Eagles game.

Educational signs explaining how different types of earth effect the wines was interesting.

Educational signs explaining how different types of earth effect the wines was interesting.

We found a rose and wait for the perfect pour.

We found a rose and wait for the perfect pour.

Highly recommended, rose is always a nice compromise.

Highly recommended, this rose is always a nice compromise between white and red.

Of course we found one more bubbly! This one was not sweet at all and a nice change.

Of course we found one more bubbly! This one was not sweet at all and a nice change.

A beautiful beach display for some tart wines.

A beautiful beach display for some tart wines.

We loved this display and wine coffin for this robust red.

We loved this display and wine coffin for this robust red.

Keep trying reds, even if you claim not to like them sometimes they surprise you.

Keep trying reds, even if you claim not to like them sometimes they surprise you.

End end of the night smile from this lovely lady wrapped things up on a nice note.

End end of the night smile from this lovely lady wrapped things up on a nice note.

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