Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Beach, Wine, Fun—what could be better?

One of my favorite events each year is the Sandestin Wine Festival in late April.  The weather's always great (read not too hot) and the location is second to none.  This year's event is April 23 to 25.  If you're looking for that perfect Spring get-away, I can't recommend it enough.

Best of all, you don't have to be a wine expert to enjoy the festival.  This year's surprise?  Organizers have added a Culinary Pavilion, where folks can sample everything from cheese to savory nibbles.  The atmosphere is laid-back and welcoming—perfect for the novice and the aficionado.  Advanced tickets are $80/day or $120/weekend (includes Culinary Pavilion).  Check it out.

Friday, April 23 – Special Festival Seminars
Experience fun, enjoyable and one-of-a-kind seminars focused on wines, cheese, and even bourbon.  These seminars are terrific opportunities to expand your knowledge with leading experts.

Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25  -- Grand Wine Tastings
Grand Wine Tastings are held at The Village of Baytowne Wharf on Saturday, April 24 from noon to 4 pm and Sunday, April 25 from 1-5 pm. 

Wine connoisseurs to wine novices join together to find more than 600 different wines to sample.  The event is a great opportunity to be surrounded by wine representatives from more than 80 vineyards both nationally and internationally. Wine lovers of all experience levels can get the inside scoop of the wine making process, upcoming trends or general wine questions. 

If the thought of tasting over 600 wines makes your head spin figuratively, seek out the judges’ favorites.  Wines are divided into 70 categories by variety, style and price. The top three wines in each category are awarded the gold, silver and bronze awards. Twenty-four judges from across the southeast, all experts in their fields, gathered in January to judge wines and pick the deserving wines for the different categories.

Each participant is given a wine glass engraved with the event’s date to use while sampling wines. It is recommended that participants practice the 5 S’s when wine sampling: see, swirl, smell, sip and spit. This 5 S’s encourage the use of all senses. Guests look at the wine for color and appearance, swirl the wine to notice texture, smell the wine to take note of the aroma, sip the wine to fully appreciate the unique blend of flavors and lastly spit the wine to move on to the next selection. Please note that if choosing not to spit the wine, take advantage of Sandestin’s complimentary tram service when staying at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. 

An extra special attraction this year is the New Culinary Pavilion. Located on the Grand Lawn, the Culinary Pavilion is not to be missed and will feature gourmet cheeses, meats, hors d’oeuvres, chocolates and nuts, all specially paired with wines.   As an added treat and value, the cost of the Culinary Pavilion is included with general Wine Festival admission.

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