Once upon a time, a South Beach Wine & Food Festival could have meant Manischewitz and brisket. Thanks to SoBe pioneer Lee Brian Schrager, who was then director of Special Events & Media Relations at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, the one-day, Florida Extravaganza was relocated and renamed. Today, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival® attracts about 7,000 guests who wine and dine their way through intimate and grand scale meals, wine tastings, seminars, and auctions.
Hosted by Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida and Florida International University (FIU), to date, the Festival has raised more than $20 million to benefit the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management’s Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center at FIU.
We got our taste of the wine tastings at the Wine Spectator Wine Seminar featuring of Bouchard Père & Fils Chardonnays, Champagne Henriot; Ferrari-Carano and a vertical tasting of Mastrojanni’s flagship wine, Brunello di Montalcino, which we personally like to serve. That tasting went on for three hours, making the audience particularly lively by the end. We got the feeling we were watching the Ft. Lauderdale college girls gone wild 15 years later, now fully coifed and educated as to the intricate noses of their favorite Chardonnays.
It all culminated at the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations. How big was it? Let’s just say after an hour and a half of eating our way to oblivion, we discovered … another tent! We were only half way through.
Just for the record, one of the first thing we tasted was a Coca Cola Brisket, and the last, a Kosher full bodied Recanati wine. Two pentimentos of the past … made perfect.