Last evening in San Francisco began the first of the four city tour for Wine Enthusiast’s Toast of the Town wine and restaurant tasting events. Held at the War Memorial Opera House, it was presented in a really grand setting, utilizing four floors of this gorgeous, historic building to present premier wines and spirits, along with the succulent food flavors for which San Francisco is so famous.

The next events, if there’s one coming up in your area it should be on your list of things to do, assuming you’re free to make it.

From putting on our own PS I Love You events, I can only say that I’m in awe of organizing something this huge (500 wine companies, and 30 top-rated restaurants) as Toast of the Town. Honestly, I was thrilled to not have to have been the planner this time around. Instead, I was free to explore, no stress and… lots of food and wine.

Pictured below: Xavier, Allison, Steve, & Jose

As we entered the lobby, Jose and I were met by Steve Heimoff and Allison Langhoff. (Steve you’d know from Wine Enthusiast, Allison is their West Coast advertising manager.) They were chatting with Xavier Barlier of Maisons Marques & Domaines. After enjoying their company and picture taking, Steve and Allison steered Jose and me off toward one of the brands that Xavier represents, which was Roederer on the bottom floor. so that we could start there and work our way up to the top floors. So much beautiful space was utilized, so little time. Off we went on our adventure.

Mark your calendars, boys and girls!

  • The Atlanta event is going to be at the Georgia Aquarium, Thursday, April 7, 2008.
  • The Chicago event is going to be at the Field Museum, Thursday, May 1, 2008.
  • The New York Toast of the Town is going to be held at the New York State Theater, at Lincoln Center on Monday, May 19, 2008.

You can call 1-800-847-5949 to purchase tickets, or you can go online, Toast of the Town

Special thanks to Laurie Jones of The Wine Group and David Kase of Kase Media Soultions for presenting this opportunity to me.

As always for me, pictures say a lot more than words, so here are some of the event’s fun moments.

For images with no text:

EOS is one of my PS I Love You members, and it’s always fun to see EOS at any event. Rich, luscious Paso Robles wines…

Gloria Ferrer Sparklers!

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc definitely has the Meow Factor going on. Jason Christ admitted that he’d never heard it explained this way before, so I assured him that women can’t just throw around the cat you-know-what thing, when explaining what defines a great Sauvignon Blanc, so I’ve learned to finesse it… Meow Factor…

Wine writers David Jones and Steve Heimoff enjoying friends and conversation.

Wine writer Jim Gordon tasting wine. Jim is Wine Enthusiast’s official wine blogger, and he’s also the editor of Wine & Vines magazine.

Nicolas Tucker of Underdog Wine Merchants is pouring Big House wines, Concannon Vineyard, and other wines from this portfolio.

Remy Cointreau USA wines were being poured by Marie Christina Batich. In this case, it’s a magnum of CHAMPAGNE Piper-Heidsieck. I love giving PR people a face… they’re usually the ones arranging for someone else’s face to be in the public eye!

This was a really fun person to briefly meet. Sandra Barros considers herself the “Mistress of Hospitality” at Merryvale. Bless her heart, she’s been through every kind of situation in pouring wine as I have. She’s not going to give anyone a chance to mess up her pouring style, either. Sandra makes everyone put his or her glass on the table, and then she’ll pour. We laughed about the pusher-uppers and puller-outers (you know who you are!), and then I dutifully put my glass down to have her pour a gorgeous Merryvale Chardonnay… The only Chard that I tasted at this event, it was so worthy!

As we were preparing to head for the door, I took one more shot in the lobby. One of the people in that group of many, many people knew that I had just taken a picture, because my flash gave me away. Michael Chidambaram came flying across the floor to me, insisting that I take another shot, because he had blinked. Hey… who knew?

(Michael’s the one on the far right.) This was too funny to not stage another shot, so I did. When I told Michael what I do for work, he immediately told me that he knows people who could use a publicist. I told him “Thanks, but I’m so busy right now that…” He finished my sentence… “You can’t take on any new clients!” I told him that I’d rather turn someone down than let someone down. Wow! He wrote that one down, seeing how it could benefit his love life. I’m still laughing. The life of the party, Girls, look out he’s on the loose!

Ending on a sweet, Marie-Antoinette “Let them eat cake!” note, the friendly guys from Home of Chicken and Waffles (Soul Food at its Best) were insistent that I have a bite of cake. I tried hard to resist – I work diligently to keep myself from exploding with weight – but I ultimately caved. So rich, so delicious, and it has to be a whipped, cream cheese frosting, that I left thinking, I agree … Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!