Sommeliers Blind Tasting Competition
The first event I attended and simultaneously worked was a private event for local bartenders, sommeliers and beverage directors. This is an annual Food + Wine event where these local beverage specialists "compete" ( I use that term very loosely because its more fun than it is competitive) in a blind tasting competition. The winner gets a plaque in his or her place of business and all the glory that comes with beating your fellow colleagues.
Tap Your Inner Mixologist
Since I am currently in Culinary School for Beverage Management (more so to learn about the beverage industry than to become a manager) I was immediately drawn to The Tap Your Inner Mixologist event at Republic featuring renowned cocktail crafter (and absolutely adorable Brit) Charlotte Voisey. Charlotte taught us how to make three simple, yet innovative, drink recipes all with ingredients at home. Drinks included a Whiskey Sour, a Gin Punch, and a French 75. All the drinks were so delicious and surprisingly easy enough for an amateur to concoct. I have never been one to indulge in a Whiskey Sour but Charlotte's was the absolute winner; the secret is fresh lemons and limes not sour mix.
Virginia is for Wine + Food Lovers
I picked this event for two main reasons: 1) it was taking place at the Zero George hotel, which I had yet to see but heard raving reviews and 2) Many of the wineries were from Charlottesville, where my sister currently attends UVA. This event was unique because although it focused on the food and wine scene of central Virginia it also really connected to Charleston. The owners of Zero George also have several properties in Virginia including Pippin Hill and The Red Pump restaurant. The event toured us around the Zero George property by visiting different stations of wine and food pairings. Our favorite was the truffle mac and cheese by Cannon Green's chef, Amelia Scatena, with wine pairings from Pippin Hill.
The Grand Tasting Tent
The grand tasting tent was the main attraction of this food circus. This is where you could sample different wines, spirits, beers, cheese, and tapas from vendors all over the South. You could even purchase the alcohol you tried at the Bottles tent, adjacent to the grand tasting tent. My favorite part of grand tasting tent was the Goat.Sheep.Cow cheese tasting. Each cheese sample was paired with a different type of wine and it was spot on. If we hadn't been so full from the previous day's events I'm sure we would have spent more time at the biergarten and rosegarten (yes, a beer garten with rose instead). The grand tasting tent was the most crowded event since it sold more tickets than the smaller events, but nonetheless a great hands-on food and beverage experience.
While it felt like I had done so much in that one weekend, I had really only scratched the surface of the Wine + Food Festival. There are tons of events ranging from bourbon tastings to guest chef pop-up dinners. I'm unsure of where I will be a year from now, but I'm fairly certain I will somehow make it back to Charleston for this. Until next time, wine + food fest!