On Friday 9/28/18 Brittani and I attended Western’s 29th Wine & Food Festival at the Birmingham Zoo. It was pretty impressive. I strongly recommend the event, but you will have to decide if the price is worth it.
Western is a small grocery store chain in the Birmingham, AL area. Their Mountain Brook location is upscale with an impressive wine department. It is worth your time to check it out.
Somehow, and I truly do not know how, neither Brittani nor I had ever heard of the annual Wine & Food festival. We checked it out online and decided to attend. Then we were hit with the sticker shock of $70 per person! Yikes. It took a couple of days to talk ourselves into it, and we felt that we owed it to you, our readers, to give it a proper go, so we bought tickets.
The coordination and planning for the event were impressive. Upon arrival we were given a printed book with each table number and each of the 533 wines listed along with the bottle price and an order form. How do you build a list of that size, print it well in advance of the event, and get it 100% correct? We were also handed a plastic stemless wine glass. All things considered it was the correct vessel for this event. The space at the zoo was well used and the tables, roughly speaking, made an appropriately sized circle near the entrance. There would be 4 or so wine tables then 3 or so food tables. The layout was conducive to keeping people spread out and moving. There were probably a couple thousand people in attendance. The crowd was thick but manageable.
Being a bit obnoxious, Brittani and I started the event by sampling all 5 wines over $100 (well, one of them was $98). I recall one of them being quite to my suiting, but not a chance that I would pay the asking price. Of course, we hit the two Italian tables. Tarez Kitchen offered up their award winning hot salsa; just go buy some. We had some great meats. It was an amazing Smörgåsbord board of, well, wine and food.
I would like to call out the Fortified Wines table which I especially enjoyed. I connected with one of the servers (pictured above) and received both some great samples and some great education. The Lillet Blanc aperitif was nice and something that I can see wanting from time to time. In the whisky world both ex Sherry and Port casks (butt and pipe respectively) are used to age whiskies, especially scotch, to a nice mellow sweet flavor. At this table I was able to taste Oloroso sherry which was somewhat dry and Pedro Ximenez which was very sweet. I also learned that Ruby port is aged in stainless steel vessels and Tawny port goes into a cask. I could distinctly see how the Tawny port flavors some of my favorite scotches.
It was a great event. If you are OK with the price point, then I suggested that you go next year.
$70 per person