Every year at the Wine Experience, a devoted band of wine groupies awakens at an ungodly hour--no matter how much wine they had the night before, or how late they were out having dinner--just to be the first few in line to enter the tastings and claim the choice seats.
Since 2001, Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken has been throwing a special event to honor them (or perhaps more of a test of their devotion)--a 7 a.m. breakfast for those he dubbed the Wine Warriors. Initially he thought they would never show up. Instead, he created a monster--now a line forms just for the breakfast.
This year was no exception. A crowd of early risers showed up wearing their badges of honor--bright red Wine Warriors hats they had received as gifts in previous years. Some even sported a full set of "medals," looking like the wine world equivalent of three-star generals, with Wine Warrior pins from each year attached to their hats.
A whole table of guests even created their own Wine Warrior shirts--all bright red, of course, and bearing the slogan Veni, Vidi, Bibi (I came, I saw, I drank).
Those who didn't come in uniform were able to get a new hat at the door, or even a temporary Wine Warrior tattoo for their hand, arm or any body part they chose, along with a gift certificate for a Wine Spectator School online course and, of course, a good hearty breakfast to fuel them for the tastings to come.
After five years, the Warriors finally wore down Shanken, who lost the battle with the alarm clock this morning. Or rather executive editor Thomas Matthews lost, as he had to be on hand to welcome the early birds. Raising one of the glasses of Veuve Clicquot being passed out to the diners, he said, "There's no better way to start a day with 250 wines in your future than a glass of Champagne!"
That and a lot of coffee.
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