‘Date Night’ wine dinner helps fight against cancer

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The fall season’s social calendar is dotted with a series of events that are planned to promote excitement and support for Montgomery’s major fundraiser of the year, eagerly anticipated and hosted as a benefit for the American Cancer Society.

For two decades, the tradition has been to include several wine acquisition events among those, during which patrons enjoy an evening in local wine establishments, and select wines for purchase and donation to the main event’s silent and live auctions. Those events are still in full swing, but some new ones have been added.

Friday night, Susie and Jim Wilson III opened their home for a small gathering of guests who were eager to support the cancer society and the newest in the series of “Date Night” events that have been planned to lead-up to Vintage Affair 2016.

As hosts of the first annual Fritz Cellars Portfolio Vintner Dinner, the Wilson’s welcomed 15 patrons who joined them for an evening of fine wines and great foods. The dinner guests included Katrina and Keven Belt, Laura and Barrie Harmon, Shana and Paul James, Donna and Bill Knox, Janet McQueen and Robert Kane, Susan and David Miller, Mark Mussafer and Becky and Scott Saunders.

This year, Debby Spain serves as the volunteer coordinator of wine dinners, which are designed to allow local wine lovers to gather in a more intimate setting to support the battle against cancer by purchasing “a seat at the table.” With food, venue and wines all donated so that seat donations are totally earmarked, the Wilson event was the first of the premier “date night” experiences supporting Vintage Affair, which has become the cancer society’s 2nd largest gala per capita in the nation.

For the occasion, Debby selected opulent silver and gold invitations, which inspired the dining table’s décor, designed for the occasion by Joe O’Hara. Developed to expand the length of the table, the arrangement featured sparkling gold and silver branches, pine cones, magnolia blooms, and butterflies nestled around gold and white porcelain tulip petal votive candles. Other candles floated in vases of crystal and gold amid the enchanted forest-like table-scape.

O’Hara also planned the night’s menu with Andrew Raifaisen of Fritz Cellars with a focus on selecting the wines to augment and intensify the evening’s dining experience from beginning to end.

As the guests arrived, Raifaisen introduced them to a 2014 “Dry Creek” Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc, while the Wilson’s encouraged them to mingle and enjoyed an assortment of cheeses in the living room.

When seated for dinner, the sauvignon blanc was also a perfect complement for the meal’s first course, Joe’s remarkable French onion soup au gratin.

The second course featured seared sea scallops and onion jam, atop tender fall greens, shaved beets, radishes, cucumbers and haricot vert. The salad course was paired with the vintner’s “Russian River” Chardonnay 2012.

The entrée of prime filet of beef with roasted mushroom béarnaise was served with yellow pepper risotto, grilled baby bok choy and roasted Brussels sprouts. Throughout the main course, guests sipped, compared and enjoyed the winery’s “Russian River” Pinot Noir 2012, “Dry Creek” Estate Grown Zinfandel 2013, and rare Estate Reserve Cabernet 2012.

Guests all enjoyed petite chocolate truffles, served for dessert alongside thyme-roasted figs with French-toasted brioche and crème fraiche presented in martini glasses. As a special conclusion to the dinner hosted to support the wine-themed fundraiser, the amazing dessert was paired with Fritz Winery “Dry Creek” Estate Grown Late Harvest Zinfandel 2013.

Vintage Affair will be hosted Feb. 20 at the Wynlakes Golf and Country Club. Since the inaugural event in 1995, River Region individuals, families and corporations have donated more than 5 million dollars specifically to help find cancer’s causes and cures through ground-breaking research.


Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

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