This past Friday evening was the 10th annual Showcase of Wine & Cheese event on February 22, 2013, which benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland. Once again, it was held at the Oregon Convention Center. For $40 presale $45 at the door, you could enter the room and from 6:30-10 pm and enjoy all inclusive tastings.
The tastings included almost a hundred wines (and also some sake), dozens of gourmet cheeses and crackers and salami, snacking from an hors d’oeuvres buffet that included carving stations for beef au jus sliders, and other specialty foods such as Washington pears, flavored olive oils, samples of Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwiches, chocolates from Harry and David, and a few stations of cheese paired with snacks courtesy of DCI Specialty Foods (my favorite of these being a Thomas Hoe Stilton with honeycomb and Spanish Dark Chocolate- the book recommended a port wine pairing but there were no pours of that anywhere but good info for the future).
All guests receive a complimentary wine glass and a big tasting book with descriptions of the various tastings in the room of wine and cheese. Throughout the night there was also live music provided by Millennium Dance Band and John English “The Voice – Sounds of Sinatra”. Many guests dress up as if going to a cocktail, so it’s fun people-watching too, and classier than you would fine at normal tasting festivals.
Outside before the event started and until 8:30 guests could browse and bid on a silent auction on dozens of donated packages. Later when the doors open a photo booth station and massage chairs as well as containers of water/soda were also available up the very end.
There is no need to feel a rush to taste during the evening. There was still plenty of cheese and snacks by the end of the night (with people still going around in the “circle” of cheese station tables) and the appetizers buffet and carving stations were out until the last 45 minutes. Some of the wine stations didn’t start running out of pours until 8:30 or so as far as I could tell and other stations kept it coming until the very end. In fact, the only negative was it was hard to balance the wine glass with a plate for the cheese and snacks while also carrying my camera. They should consider letting regular admissions people purchase those plastic cocktail plates that have a wine glass holder in order to raise even more money (they were complimentary to those who paid extra to enter early).
With a guest attendance numbering more than a thousand people, most of the tastings are of cheese and wine that you will be able to find at your local supermarket. I still enjoy the opportunity this event offers as it is so approachable in letting everyone taste what is also conveniently available if I wanted to seek it out later. For instance, cheese included Beecher’s, Beemster, Belgioioso, Carr Valley, Champignon, Cypress Grove, Jana Foods Holland, Kerrygold, Rogue Creamery, Sartori, Solera, Yancey’s Fancy- names you are familiar with from the cheese case, and still tasty. Here are a few photos of the event when I first entered as we did our initial snacking before we started tasting the wines in earnest.