Charity events are great times to discover wines that you may not buy a bottle of, if it is new to you. We just went to the Wine Stroll in Royal Oak (a city known for an eclectic mix of restaurants and boutiques), which is an annual tradition to raise money for a local charity. My Bride and her friends have gone a couple of times and have always enjoyed it. This year I had the good fortune to join the group. The tickets were priced at $40.00 each, which is not a bad price for a jovial day of good wine and food.
Outings of this nature are a great way for restaurants to introduce themselves to potential new customers. They usually prepare a taste of one of their most popular dishes and pair it with a good wine. It is a win-win situation, in that people will remember the offerings and the next time they want to go out, they will want to try an evening there.
This was not the case. It was poorly arranged, we went to the first kiosk to get our pass, as we had already secured the tickets by post. The first line was over a block long of people, so we decided to try the other kiosk, with identical results. There were grumblings by the patrons in line, as the line was not moving. The wine stroll was scheduled from one to five, it took one hour for us to get through the line, redeem our tickets and receive the mandatory lanyard and pass to begin. A couple of the “volunteers” were totally indifferent to the complaints of the people and exhibited the worst in customer service.
There were twenty-one restaurants participating in the stroll and we created our own tour. We only visited eight of the participating restaurants. Of the restaurants we visited, most of them went out of their way to feature lackluster food samples and mediocre wines for pairings. There was nothing to ignite the passion of wanting to try a night at any establishment. After visiting the second restaurant a couple of our group, dismissed the wine being poured and opted to buy a beer instead. By the fifth tasting, we decided to go to a restaurant and have lunch and relax. The conversation centered on beer and cocktails, and when was mentioned it was to lament on the poor selections offered. In fact one of the restaurants had the tasting in the back of the shop and the smell was so foul, I couldn’t decide if it was the wine or the food. In fact when I held the wine up to check the nose, it was so bad (it reminded me of an outdoor fish market), that I could not even taste the wine.
After lunch, we were going to attempt the stroll again, changed our minds and went to a restaurant that was not even part of the stroll. We ate and drank some more, and I did have some wonderful short-rib tacos and a glass of Duckhorn Decoy wine. Prior to the Stroll we met at a mutual friend’s house and started with Mimosas. Needles to say, that first glass of wine and the last glass of wine were the most memorable of the day.
I do hope that the local charity where the proceeds were going to, search for a new organizer for the event, as at the moment I have no desire to ever attend this Wine Stroll again. At a later date, I will discuss a wine and food charity that is run properly and a good time is enjoyed by all, which is how it should be.