This was the inaugural year for the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival in Miramar Beach, Florida. It was a resounding success. I was fortunate enough to be a judge for the wine portion of the event, and had tried quite a few of the more than 800 wines prior to the event. That was a good thing because there was so much to do that it was good to have a few things marked off my list.
There were plenty of opportunities to meet winemakers at special events. And the weekend was highlighted by the Grand Tastings on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to an abundance of wine being poured, there were wine seminars (including a Rioja seminar, and a food and wine pairing seminar by Delamotte Champagne), tastings of single malt Scotch and artisan Kentucky Bourbon tasting, cooking demonstrations and a food pavillion. Florida chef Norman Van Aken demonstrated preparation of spicy sweet caramelized plantain soup with smoked ham and sour cream from his cookbook My Key West Kitchen. Pairing wine with salad was made delicious when local produce from Mac Farms was teamed with Mohua wines from New Zealand.
The entire event was set against the backdrop of Grand Boulevard. Its streets afforded plenty of room to stroll as attendees tasted wine and enjoyed music provided by the Nashville Songwriters’ Showcase. It was a great weekend that I look forward to repeating for many years.
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