I haven’t made it to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen for quite a few years – it’s expensive, I travel quite a bit already, and I just didn’t make time to fit it in. But when friends asked us to get a group together and go this year, I didn’t hesitate for a second. It’s gorgeous – Aspen is set against the Maroon Bells in Colorado – and who doesn’t love a weekend filled with friends, wine and food?I learned a few things attending food and wine festivals, starting with the realization that no matter how much nibbling on tasting bites or sipping tastes of wine you do during the day, it’s nice to sit down to an actual meal at night. It’s nice to be off your feet, eating with regular silverware and with a napkin on your lap. And Brexi in Aspen was lovely for our first evening.I learned that sparkling wine and cheese makes for a fabulous breakfast – it was the first event I went to during the entire session, and I learned that the acidity of sparkling wine goes particularly well with creamy cheeses and that salt and sparkling wine are friends. No wonder I love potato chips with champagne so much.I’m sure everyone knows this already, but when paired side by side, it’s often incredibly hard to tell the cheap wine from the expensive wine. Even this panel of experts, with my friend after the session, was unsure at times and disagreed with each other. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to drink good wine!I learned that the food and wine world just isn’t so big after all – when we ran into a college friend from Bucknell who is now in the wine business.I learned that a nice long hike in the morning is sometimes better than starting the day with a wine tasting. In this case I skipped a tasting I had signed up for but was rewarded with a nice workout and this lovely view.I learned that I don’t really like garnacha wine – even though I was receiving an incredible education about it from Bobby Stuckey of Frasca in Boulder.I learned that Jose Andres is perhaps one of the nicest and funniest chefs around. We simply loved watching him create 10 tapas dishes in 45 minutes with assistance from his adorable little girl.I learned that a nice walk through town after dinner is a great time to walk off some of that food and wine – and also the best time to capture a sunset shot over the tents in Wagner Park……but that morning at Starbuck’s is when you’re most likely to see a random celebrity sighting (that’s Food Network star Tyler Florence fixing his morning cup of joe).I learned that you can pair wines with sushi quite well, and that I prefer a Prosecco di Valdobbiadene or a Brut Rose Cava the best with sushi (although the Riesling and the Vinho Verde were pretty good too).I’ve mostly attended the Food & Wine Classic alone in the past, so I learned this year that it’s a pretty great way to spend the weekend with your husband, especially if you’re celebrating his birthday. Thanks to all the chefs, winemakers, and volunteers who make the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen happen every year!