Partygoers check out the boutique wines at a Wine+Food series event. — Photo courtesy of Brooks Museum of Art
Spring in Memphis equals gorgeous flowering trees, clear blue skies, warm days and cool evenings. The season is also a high time in Memphis society, when the pre-summer benefit and gala season is in full swing.
One of our favorite events is the Memphis Wine + Food Series, which has grown from a single wine auction to a variety of opportunities to indulge in wines from boutique wineries. You can also feast on the culinary creations of some of the city’s – and country’s – most acclaimed chefs.
And best of all, the proceeds raised from these gastronomic good times benefit the Brooks Museum of Art; in fact, the Wine + Food Series is the museum’s largest source of funding for its educational programs for students.
While a VIP wine dinner is the true launch to the series, Wine + Food really revs up in late March with a throw-down at the museum, featuring more than 60 wines, dozens of restaurants, a live band and dancing and a silent auction. Part of the fun is a bottle pull, where you pay a nominal amount – like $20 – and can choose a bottle of wine from the array of bottles cleverly concealed, so you have no idea what you’re buying.
From that initial kick-off, a series of tastings take place throughout the city, and a big wine dinner and live auction bring in serious oenophiles. Featuring a multi-course meal tailored to the offerings of a single winery, the dinner is restricted in the number of available seats and includes a live auction of cult wines, art, trips and more.
One of the tasting dinners, outdoors at the Brooks Museum of Art — Photo courtesy of Brooks Museum of Art
The final spring event of the series is the grand auction. The May event brings some of the finest items seen at any gala auction, with fine art, select wine lots and more going to the highest bidders. Finally – and with a new season in 2014 – the Vin-a-Que event offers something uniquely Memphis: the pairing of barbecue and wine in a festive setting.
For 2014, the focus is on four boutique vintners – those defined as crushing 250 tons or less under an independently owned brand. These exclusive, so-called cult boutique wines come from Kobalt, Lamborn Family Vineyards, Relic and Revana and Cornerstone Cellars.
The money raised from the tastings, dinners and auctions benefit art programs for students throughout the Mid-South, including free school tours, home school programs and art therapy programs for children and adults.