Telluride Wine Fest co-director Steve Olson is a wine geek – Not

Telluride Wine Fest co-director Steve Olson is a wine geek – Not

[click “Play” to hear Steve Olsen discuss Telluride Wine Festival]

Pic_steve They are here in force. Telluride Wine Festivarians, the people who inhale audibly at the mere mention of the word “Bordeaux”  paired in the same sentence as the words “Chateaux Lafite Rothschild.” But few of them condone torture in any form,  including phrases such as “afterthoughts of linden” and “fragrances of toasted milk bread,” a few examples on a long list of poetic flights of fancy used to describe the almighty grape.

In winespeak, certain terms are universal – but nearly incomprehensible unless you happen to be in the trade and forced to pronounce words such as “malolactic” to make your assessment understood. (A close translation is creamy.) Unless you happen to be in the trade and are on a mission to make tasting fun by removing the intimidation factor and all the aforementioned pretense. Meet Steve Olson, aka wine geek, and co-director of the 28th annual Telluride Wine Festival.

Grapes may be persnickety. Steve is not.

Doug Frost, MS, MW, a true geek and Telluride Wine Festival regular, seem to agree that food and wine pairing comes down to the biological individuality of consumers. In other words, if we like certain wines and we favor certain foods, chances we would like them together. It’s that simple.

Steve is something of a genetic anomaly: he has no culture of alcohol whatsoever in his genetic stew. Quite the contrary: His family is comprised of tee-totaling Lutherans from Ohio. Nevertheless, he was running a five-star restaurant in his 20s, and today, 30 years later, Steve is best known for having designed the innovative beverage programs and service systems for several nationally acclaimed restaurants, including the award-winning Mayflower Inn in Connecticut, New York City’s #1 Zagat-rated restaurant, Gramercy Tavern, and the AAA Five-Diamond Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

Since 1992, his company, aka wine geek, specializes in the professional presentation of wine, spirits, beer, sake, and non-alcohol beverage education for the trade, consumers, and the media.

Steve was selected as Santé magazine’s Spirits Professional of the Year for 2003, and in 2005, he was chosen as Cheers magazine Beverage Innovator of the Year, a lifetime achievement award. His new company, BAR (Beverage Alcohol Resource, LLC) was chosen as Cheers’s Beverage Innovator of the Year 2007.

In addition to his responsibilities as co-director – for starters, putting together the line-up of wineries – Steve joins Doug Frost at a luncheon at the New Sheridan Chop House on Friday to rap about the wines of Spain. On Saturday, he is at Allred’s, joining Steve Geddes, MS, to talk about the top ten food wines of the year. Steve will also be on hand at the Sunday brunch extravaganza in Town Park.

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