Thursday, January 21, 2010

Charlotte Wine & Food time

While we're on the subject of wine: Tickets go on sale Monday for the Charlotte Wine & Food Festival.

If you're never attended or don't know this event, it's worth checking the list. First, it only happens every two years, so you don't want to miss it. It's also a fundraiser for several local charities, so the money stays in this area.

And while many wine events can have the aroma of exclusivity, this one isn't one of them. Yes, there are high-end events and big-ticket tastings and dinners. But it also has a very reasonably priced one, the Saturday Vintner Tasting at Gateway Village.

I'm not a big-ticket gal -- $8 bottles are usually my budget -- but I've attended almost all of the Vintner Tastings because they're a great deal. For $30, you get to try samples of almost all the wines featured during the weekend, most of them poured by the people who make them. If you've always wanted to know what Silver Oak tastes like or compare several levels of ports without selling your grandmother's silver, this is your chance.

The festival also added classes and those will come back this year. They range from really basic, entry-level wine information and up to more challenging guided tastings. Last time, they did a tasting of 100-point wines. This year, they're doing one called "Almost Perfect" -- wines that fell short of the top rankings, with an instructor explaining what their flaws are.

There are two first-time events this year: Charlotte's first-ever wine competition on Feb. 6 will evaluate wines that will be a part of the festival. (FYI, I'm one of the judges). This should be useful because the wines also will be available in local restaurants and wine stores.

Second, they're branching out from wine. In addition to the long list of restaurants that host vintner dinners showcasing the wines, The Liberty will hold the event's first beer dinner.

Prices for most things are still being set, so you'll have to check the Web site Monday for the full list: http://www.charlottewineandfood.org/. But many things sell out quickly, so don't put it off.

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