Last Sunday, we went to the Charleston Wine and Food Festival. We visited the Culinary Village and the Baker Motor Company Grand Tasting Tent. We went on Sunday because they had a locals special – tickets to the 3-5pm session were $70 for locals (as opposed to the regular $85/per person for a 2 hour session).
Our biggest hesitation on this event was definitely the price – it ended up being around $150 for the two of us. However, several girls from the Junior League told me that it was well worth it, so we made the plunge.
The event was held on Marion Square, which is a block-wide grassy park in the center of downtown Charleston, on Calhoun Street between King and Meeting. Marion Square is the home to lots of festivals and events, including Charleston Fashion Week and the post-race activities following the Cooper River Bridge Run.
But, back to the Wine and Food Festival. We arrived, they scanned our (smart phone) tickets, and we received wristbands and wine glasses. We were then set free to wander through the tents. There were a few smaller tents that felt like lounges, but we quickly found our way to the Grand Tasting Tent. This tent was set up with tons and tons of tables of vendors. They were approximately every other food-wine-food-wine.
The food tended to be 2-bite samples from different local restaurants. Examples include a cracker with a gourmet cheese, a small container of pasta and sauce, a tortilla chip with BBQ, or a square of gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. All of the food felt high-end and decadent. However, it could be very “I don’t know what this is – just eat it,” like the fried chicken liver Sean didn’t realize he ate. If you could get up to the booth and stand there for a moment, the vendors were very friendly and loved to discuss their offerings. However, at some points it was too crowded or we were to rushed to really stop. So, if you are picky or have a lot of allergies, this might not be the event for you. Luckily, Sean and I are both pretty open to whatever (in the food department) and didn’t have a problem at all.
The wine was good, too. For the most part, they filled your glass about 1/3 of the way. This wasn’t a major issue because there were at least 20 wine booths! There was also a curtained-off section in the center of the tent serving fruity vodka drinks, a Bloody Mary station in the corner, and a Firefly Distillery booth. Needless to say, the tent was not short on alcohol.
Beyond the tent, there was also a separate beer garden. There were 10 different beer booths who would fill your wine glass to the top with high-gravity beer. There were lots of local and regional vendors, which made it very fun to sample new things. Sean and one of his friends ended up staying here for the rest of the day while my friend and I went out and wandered around a bit more.
Needless to say, it quickly turned into a how-much-can-we-drink-before-five sort of party. Forgive us for the lack of quality pictures. It was hard enough to balance a full wine glass and a small plate of food among a throng of people without busting out the iPhone.
We had a blast at the Grand Tasting Tent. Too much fun, really. I would definitely go back again, head in a little early (I hear you could get into the beer garden before the tent opened) and make an extra food loop towards the end. But we had such a great time and knocked off yet another item off of our 101 in 1001 list!
Have you been to the Food & Wine Festival?