The 15th annual Taste Washington is expected to draw 3,500 people, who will sample food from 52 restaurants and more than 800 wines over two days at the CenturyLink Field Event Center.

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With earthy, sweet beets, try a riesling.

For that nutty and spicy arugula salad, pour a glass of grüner veltliner.

And for pea vines from the farmers market, reach for a bottle of assyrtiko.

These are some of the great wine pairings for spring vegetables, said Nelson Daquip, Canlis restaurant wine director, when put on the spot Saturday at the Taste Washington.

Daquip and Jason Franey, head chef at Canlis, lived up to their reputation as a dynamic duo when they showcased a food and wine pairing seminar at CenturyLink Field Event Center.

It was one of the many things that lured foodies and wine geeks to attend the 15th annual Taste Washington.

The rain didn’t keep people away, with many waiting in line to enter.

“They came in wet, hungry and thirsty,” said David Blandford, spokesman for Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This year’s event was expanded to two days, and 3,500 people are expected to attend.

And one of the most popular stations is the Taylor Shellfish Farms shucking area, where more than 600 dozen oysters will be pried open this weekend.

For those people who find the idea of pairing food and wine intimidating, Daquip and the other panelists agreed riesling is the go-to grape varietal that rarely disappoints.

Because riesling has a combination of acidity and sweetness, it works great with a wide variety of foods, he said.

“I think people are afraid to buy riesling, but when they get it they are grateful,” he said.

Franey, who is a finalist for a James Beard Award, agrees.

“Riesling is a chef’s best friend,” he added.

In contrast, chardonnay can be difficult to pair with food because many wineries age it in oak barrels.

But don’t forget about sparkling wines. While many people open a bottle of Champagne to celebrate a special occasion, sommeliers say it’s a versatile wine that can be paired with soup, sashimi, duck, and, of course, oysters.

For salmon lovers, the best wine is pinot noir, panelists agreed.

There also are some foods to avoid when trying to couple them with wine, including avocados, artichokes, asparagus and eggs.

And for those wanting to follow food trends, Franey said, bacon is out and raw vegetables are in. His recent creations include preparing carrots five different ways to accentuate different textures and flavors. He suggests an acidic white wine to pair with it.

Christine Willmsen: 206-464-3261 or On Twitter @Christinesea.