Tempting the taste buds

If you’re in the mood for fine dining and fine wining, you’re in luck. There are two big events planned to celebrate the finer things in life.

The theme of the 6th Annual. Taste of Savannah, set for Jan. 20 from 7-10 p.m., is Hollywood! A Gourmet Premiere. “We try to play the theme up every year,” says Julie Ford Musselman, Savannah Tourism Council interim director.

The Savannah International Trade & Convention Center will be transformed for the event. “Guests will arrive on a red carpet,” Musselman says. “Paparazzi will be shooting photographs of them as they arrive. In the past, the awards we have given have been plaques, but this year we are giving Oscars.”

Taste of Savannah showcases 25 of Savannah’s best restaurants and caterers, who will be serving samples of their favorite menu items. They all will be competing for prizes, as well.

In addition to good food, there will be cash bars and a silent auction. Proceeds will benefit the Tourism Leadership Council. Tickets for the Taste of Savannah are $40 in advance and $45 the day of the event. To purchase tickets, call 232-1223.

The Savannah Music Festival 2006 Wine Weekend will be held Friday and Saturday, January 20-21. The weekend features private receptions and wine symposia plus a black-tie gala and auction. The first event will begin Friday, January 20, at 6 p.m. with the Southern Mansion Festival Wine Receptions. These private receptions will be held at the Delta, Lebanon and Ford plantations.

Each location will feature fine wines, live music and personal interaction with vineyard owners. At Lebanon, participants will explore Southeastern wines while Ford and Delta will host West Coast vintners. Tickets for this event are $100 per person.

The Festival Wine Symposia will feature three wine symposiums designed to offer experienced and novice wine lovers a chance to interact with vintners while learning trends and variables of wine-making. They will be presented Saturday, Jan. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Mansion on Forsyth Park.

Each will last one hour and will focus on a particular variety of wine. The vintners will comment on their wine-producing regions, and samples of wine will be accompanied by fine cheeses. Tickets are $30 per session, or $60 for all three.

The highlight will be the black-tie gala and auction Saturday, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Mansion on Forsyth Park. The gala will include a five-course dinner accompanied by fine wines. Tickets are $275 per person for the gala.

Now expanded to a three-event experience, the Wine Weekend is the premier fundraiser for the not-for-profit Savannah Music Festival.

“The goal of the committee was to attract some of the country’s finest wine makers to enhance our lovely Savannah and support our community’s leading performing arts program,” says Howard J. Morrison, Jr., co-chair of the event’s wine acquisition committee.

Dr. Robert Tomhave, the other co-chair, says the event has grown considerably over last year. “In 2005, we solicited 24 bottles of wine,” he says. “This year we have 66 bottles, 19 magnums and two double-magnums.”

William Edgerton, a world-renowned wine critic from Connecticut who has authored several books on wine, was chosen as the gala auctioneer.

“Having Mr. Edgerton here means that the audience will have a better understanding of the top-notch quality of the wines we’re bidding on,” says Carolyn Luck, co-chair of the gala with Jane Feiler and Jaqueline Rabinowitz.

The decision to expand the event was made last fall, according to Hart Williford, chairman of the Savannah Music Festival board.

“This weekend is very important to the Savannah Music Festival,” he says. “Less than 40 percent of our income is from ticket sales, so we earn the rest from sponsorships and public and private contributions and special events like this wine weekend and our golf tournament at Spring Island in June.”

The committee hopes that the Wine Weekend will be not only a permanent event, but one that will continue to grow. “Our goal is for it to become a destination event for the city of Savannah for the month of January,” says Phoenicia Miracle, director of development for the Savannah Music Festival.

Call 234-3378 for tickets.

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