Seagrape Wine Co. owner Thomas Morgan.

It's not cliquish, but you'll see a lot of the same faces at Seagrape Wine Co.'s monthly outdoor wine socials. The shop fills the lasting need for unpretentious, wine-sipping fun during while also following Covid-19 safety rules.

Store owner Thomas Morgan changed his traditional wine tastings into what he calls Social Drinking events to keep people connected and create community without a Zoom link. Instead of the bottle clinking against dozens of different glasses that happens at normal tastings, at Seagrape, you buy a bottle of wine, receive two free stemless glasses and pair it with food from a rotation of food trucks like Polpo Pizza Co. or Spice Boys. It's a casual, al fresco wine-and-dine experience.

The next gathering takes place this Thursday, Jan. 21. Food will be provided by Big Blue Grilled Cheese Company, and includes a fresh mozzarella caprese sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes and a balsamic reduction; a vegan smoked gouda and crisp, green apples; and, of course, a classic grilled cheese made with perfectly melted, sharp American cheddar, all served on thick, white bread with a bag of chips.

Wondering what wine to pair with a grilled cheese sandwich? Morgan sidesteps the right-versus-wrong dichotomy of wine pairing rules. "Food and wine go together," he says. "I want people to drink what they like, and eat what they like. And I'm here to help them choose what that is."

Open since 2018, Seagrape is a family-owned wine shop. Morgan carefully curates the wines, which come from small production vineyards. He says his goal is to “help people drink better and support farmers while doing it.” More than half the wines in stock cost less than $30 a bottle, with a spattering of rare wines, as well. Seagrape will host Social Drinking events every month, until "Covid is truly out of our lives," says Morgan.

Seagrape Wine Co.'s next Social Drinking event runs 5-9 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21. The shop is located at 4333 S. Tamiami Trail, Unit F, Sarasota. The next event will take place on Friday, Feb. 12. To receive email updates on future events, email [email protected] or sign up on the shop's website.

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