Story by: Natalie Haddock
Wine experts, sommeliers, enthusiasts, and all lovers of wine are invited to the annual Tasting of Champions on January 30th from 6-8pm at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Gulf Resort and Spa. This highly anticipated event is hosted by the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) and gives attendees the chance to preview the medal winning wines that will be featured this April at the popular Northwest Florida Beaches Ultimate Wine Week.
At the Tasting of Champions over 600 wines in over 60 categories will be evaluated, scored, and awarded by a distinguished panel of wine experts. They will select a gold, silver, and bronze in each category and also declare the “Best in Show Red” and “Best in Show White.” Judges are local wine buyers, retailers, wine lovers and one or two sommeliers, each of whom have made tasting wine a big part of life.
“This is an accessible event for people that want to learn about wine.” says DCWAF president John Russell. Winning wines are noted at each tasting station and the event will be structured in a walkabout format with wines grouped by category. The layout allows attendees to broaden the pallet by exposure to a variety of quality wines.
All wines will be scored the morning before the doors open to the public at 6:00. Russell explains, “After the judging is completed – the bottles are there, why not pour them and raise a little money for kids?”
After all, the DCWAF has a mission to simply connect wine enthusiasts to raise money to benefit children in need in Northwest Florida.
Since they launched in 2005, the DCWAF has been proud to provide funding to 12 different charities that help to impact the lives of over 60,000 youth. While 2014 was an exceptional year with over $2 million in funds raised for these organizations, the foundation hopes to hit the $10 million mark in total funds in this their 10th year. “Success creates the opportunity for more success,” says Russell, “and every year gives us the chance to tell the story of our charities.”
The Tasting of Champions is a precursor to the Foundation’s largest annual event and fundraiser, the Destin Charity Wine Auction. The Auction takes place over the 4th weekend of April each year as part of the Northwest Florida Beaches Ultimate Wine Week and has been named one of the nation’s “Top 10 US Charity Wine Auctions” for two years in a row by Wine Spectator Magazine. This year winemakers Chateau de Beaucastel and Boisset will be attending both the Auction and South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival, April 23-26.
Purchase your tickets to the Tasting of Champions to get an exclusive “first taste” of the hundreds of featured wines. Medals will be hung on the award winning wines so people are encouraged to get there early for a chance to try the winners. Tickets are still available for $50 at http://www.dcwaf.org/tickets or sign up to be registered for your chance to win 2 free tickets from 30AFoodandWine.com.