We like to think of our annual four-day stint in Aspen—eating great food and drinking the best wines in the world—as something we train for all year round: a marathon, not a sprint. Here's our guide to packing and prepping in order to achieve maximum success (read: fun and deliciousness) at this year's Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
Heading to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen for the first time this year? The four-day bacchanalia features many of the country's top chefs, epic grand tasting opportunities, and so much of the world's best wine—all in one place, tidily ensconced within the posh confines of a wealthy mountain town nestled in the Colorado Rockies, all there for your sensory pleasure. With every day packed with events, seminars, tastings, luncheons, celebrations, and late-night escapades, it might be hard to know what to bring along for the festivities. Here's what you need to know about prepping and packing ahead of time.
The daytime dress code is definitely casual.
Aspen weather is glorious in the summertime—arid and sunny. But with June temperatures that typically fluctuate from the mid-70s during the day down to the low-40s at night, consider packing a variety of layer-able pieces—light trousers, easy jersey tees, a cozy blanket-inspired cashmere cardigan, maybe even a summer scarf. During the day, the dress code is definitely casual—sneakers-casual, even. Aspen is easily navigable on foot—and with parking spots a hot commodity in-town, walking from venue to venue will be your best bet for getting around, so make sure your shoes are comfortable. Check out longtime resident Aerin Lauder's tome Aspen Style for inspiration.
The Grand Tasting is epic, so make sure to plan and strategize accordingly.
The Grand Tasting Pavilion hosts hundreds of the world's best food and wine purveyors at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen—and over the course of the weekend, the pavilion will open for tastings five times: at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Friday, at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, and at 12:45 p.m. on Sunday. It's pretty much impossible to sample everything in one go, so the key to soaking in as much of the Grand Tasting Pavilion as possible comes down to multiple visits and strategic planning. First things first: get a lay of the land—check out the map at the front entrance (pro tip: take a photo of it so you have it onhand at all times) and hit up your highest priorities early on. Like triage. For example, if you're keen on meeting this year's class of Best New Chefs, make sure to get yourself to the Best New Chefs tent ASAP—before other guests start lining up. Then, plan on tackling different tents and sections of the Grand Tasting bit by bit over the weekend. If you're attending with family and friends, it's easy to get separated—people tend to wander off when they spot a good hunk of cheese or have their eye on a gorgeous glass of malbec—so make sure to designate a group meeting point beforehand: like, your favorite Lexus vehicle on display that day or near an easy-to-find KitchenAid stand mixer demo area.
Missed a seminar on Friday? Try to catch it on rerun Saturday.
Over the course of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, guests will have the opportunity to attend seven seminar sessions—but how do you choose between all the great options? Turns out, some of the most popular sessions, tastings, and demos repeat from Friday to Saturday: for example Mark Oldman's "Wines for Gazillionaires" is a perennial hit—and he'll be hosting two sessions, one on Friday at 2 p.m. and one on Saturday at the same time—and Laura Werlin's "To Brie or Not to Brie: Indulgent Cheese and Wines" will also reprise at 10 a.m. both days. Pro tip: Grab a highlighter and pick your faves from the schedule now—just to make sure you don't miss out!
Altitude sickness is real.
Aspen lies 8,000 feet above sea level and while the air is pristine up there, real talk: some people may have adverse physical reactions to the lower barometric pressure and oxygen levels at that altitude. It's hard to know how your body will respond before you arrive—symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, nausea, and dizziness—so make sure to stay well-hydrated throughout the weekend and, if you're worried, consider making the ascent to Aspen gradually, like by driving up from Denver, like some of our editors prefer to do, which helps your body acclimate.
Dress-to-impress opportunities include...
While most daytime events, seminars, tastings, and demos are casualwear-friendly, guests seeking a good excuse to dress to the nines can look forward to whipping out their cocktail party best at the now-iconic Top of the Mountain party (where every year we shoot that Champagne photo) and plenty of after-hours events in town.
Treat yo'self to the extras.
While you're in town, make sure you don't miss out on some extra-special events—especially the Food & Wine Restaurants of the Year Farewell Feast brunch on Sunday. That's where guests will get to try dishes from all ten of our 2018 Restaurants of the Year—the culinary cream of the crop from all across the United States—all magically ported to Aspen for your dining pleasure. Tickets to the brunch are still available for a limited time only, right here.
Capture memories for posterity—or just to make your friends jealous.
Your smartphone will be your best friend when it comes to documenting and social media-ing photos and video from the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, but if you're looking for something just slight more pro, consider investing in a full-frame DSLR (with a flip-out screen for all those selfies you're going to need to get with your favorite celeb chefs!) or even a swanky point-and-shoot (again, a flip-out screen is key for selfies) to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments to share with family and friends.
Stay in the loop.
And, of course, to make sure you're always in the know, follow us on Instagram @foodandwine (same goes for Twitter and Facebook), where we'll be regramming your best food and wine photos as well as Story-ing up a storm with our best chef buds (our plans are strictly under wraps right now, but I promise it will be epic fun). We'll also be live-streaming seminars and chef moments on Facebook throughout the weekend, so if you can't make it to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, you can still bask in the culinary fun from the comfort of your own home.
Here's to a fantastic 2018 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen—make sure to tag us @foodandwine in your Instagram photos for a chance to be featured on our Instagram. We'll see you in Aspen!