The Charleston Wine + Food Festival punched us in the face. We got it started off with an event that incorporated our two favorite subjects: history and booze — Charleston Brown Water Society’s classic punch event at McCrady’s. The event explained vintage punch recipes native to the Holy City. Here’s what we learned: pre-19th century punch had lots of sugar (up to four cups) and so many different kinds of alcohol we had a hard time keeping track. Thanks to those facts, The Light Dragoon punch once lead George Washington to famously dance with 250 women in one night. Apparently the drink was the 18th century’s Redbull and vodka. It went down extremely smooth and would have been enjoyed over ice, warmed up, or, taken today, through a funnel.
Friday night we hit up Pecha Kucha. After some welcome noodles we were treated with a spicy version of a screwdriver from the fine folks at Icebox. Needless to say, the cocktail put us in the mood to listen to nine food and bev connected speakers. People like Butcher & Bee owner Michael Shemtov, The Cake Farmer Amy Robinette, and Charleston Beer Exchange manager Brandon Plyler made us pleased to welcome back the Charleston Parliament showcase. Well, we take that back. We were mostly pleased to welcome back the live tweet wall — we’ll take part in any chance to interrupt an audience’s attention.
On Saturay we headed off to Zero George for the Virginia is for Wine (and Food) Lovers event. The gathering offered guests a chance to taste and sip some of the Old Dominion’s best. We were split up into groups then taken to four stations to enjoy wine and cider parings, a pleasant enough concept. But no, one lady in our group was hellbent on making a scene. Dressed in Chanel, she let us know on four separate occasions that her daughter went to the University of Virginia. Then, she claimed she was allergic to mold as chef Amalia Scatena plated mac and cheese. Later, at the Foggy Ridge Cider station, Chanel lady shared that her daughter is allergic to gluten, and that she was worried she might be as well. Also at this particular station, a local lady insisted on hearing all about the wine at hand before she lifted her glass to her mouth. Yep, she straight-up refused to drink before she knew absolutely everything about the grapes. Which meant we all had to wait to drink. It was the rudest experience we have been witness to in recent memory.
Luckily, the Field and Farms station was a welcome distraction. There we were treated to a lambchetta, which seemed to be the trend given the amount of lamb served this weekend. Our host, who resembled a dandy Fozzie Bear, was quite the showman, and the most inviting and engaging Virginian of the event. All was well until another guest piped in. A woman who mistook me for her boyfriend at least three times, asked the general manager of Zero George if they had any T-shirts or koozies. He said that they unfortunately did not. Then she asked the owner of Boxwood Winery if her particular brand of swill was available at Harris Teeter. This, after, the Boxwood rep had just said they usually make just 2,200 cases a year, barely enough to stock their own vineyard shelves. Side eye.
But we managed to finish the weekend strong. Early in the evening on Saturday we headed to Edmund’s Oast to see cocktail superstars Alba Huerta from Houston, Texas and Bryan Rackely from The Kimball House in Decatur, Ga. for a special happy hour. Huerta deserves the longest vacation in the world, as she was working so hard throughout the entire event. Her spiced julep was our particular favorite as it came in a silver cup. We’re suckers for anything that’s not served in plastic.
Bonus: we got to meet some chefs and hear some great stories too. The whole affair seemed to be a nice side note from the Wine + Food Festival that gave everyone a break. And now we’re exhausted.