Fresh Market, JDRF Wine Soiree big hit
A "wine soiree" is nothing to scoff at in terms of events I'd want to attend--it is high on my list of preferred events. I'll admit, when I learned that the location of a recent soiree was to be the local Fresh Market, I was skeptical. I am very pleased to share that the Fresh Market Wine Soiree on Thursday, September 18, was a huge hit!
The gourmet food market ended up serving as a fun, unique venue for a wonderful turnout of patrons in support of the North Florida Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, right down to the high-quality pamphlets describing each wine station. Yes, wine stations. This wine-tasting fundraiser allowed you not only to buy the featured bottles of wine at a discount but to sample them. Not to mention that all 10 wine stations, each with two to three wines for tasting and purchasing, were accompanied by hors d'oeuvres purposefully paired by taste to each wine and constantly re-stocked at each table.
I was blown away by the detail of every aspect of this event, from the extremely skillful matching of food and drink to the helpful, friendly staff. My date for the evening, Mariel (right), and I traded our tickets for a pamphlet and wine glass and we were off to the races! Of course we had to visit each station scattered throughout the market, but I think our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. It would take some time to detail every wine and food item offered, so instead I feel a list of superlatives can adequately highlight some of the best of the night.
Could Not Get Enough: The Fresh Market pimento cheese spread and Callie's buttermilk biscuits at Table 5 were heavenly. This may sound like a simple menu, but I love a good biscuit, and every time I went back to this table — too many times to reveal — they were somehow always warm and extremely buttery. The Gallo Signature Series Napa Cab was a deep, lingering-flavored wine that paired surprisingly well with the food.
Best Paired Tables: The Kung Fu Riesling at Table 6 had a fruity yet slightly dry interpretation of my favorite type of wine but was truly a delight with the impressive variety of sushi that followed. Also, the Maryland-style crab cake with Thomas brand goumet crab cake sauce at Table 9 was not only texturally appealing but was not overly fishy and paired so nicely with the rich Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay.
Most Indulgent: It is no surprise that this category goes to Table 10, better known as the dessert table. Both the lemon squares and Bourbon pecan squares were extremely decadent, especially with a tasting of the Rosa Regale, which made my sweet tooth sing.
Mariel's Choice: The wine that shone among the rest to Mariel was the Artezin Zinfandel at Table 2, which she ended up purchasing with a 10 percent discount for gala guests! The simple yet tasty selection of cheeses and meats at this table was greatly appreciated amidst the creative and more intricate hors d'oeuvres offered.
A wine-tasting event is a creative and extremely beneficial mode of raising money. To quote the wine pourer at Table 9: "Everything looks better the more stations you visit (and wine that you drink)!" I admit I had my fill of tasty treats and wine tasting in my attempt to try them all but also admit I was defeated by the sheer volume offered. To my surprise, there was not one wine or food selection that I disliked. Similarly, everyone I passed was smiling, mingling and enjoying themselves. If that doesn't signal a successful event, I don't know what else would.
I hope that another shindig of a similar nature occurs for another great cause, as this was an extremely well-received variation from a typical Gainesville night.