High Note

What to Expect at This Year's Sarasota Opera Food & Wine Festival

Our wine writer previews the pours you should be excited about at this Saturday's event.

By Bob McGinn September 19, 2023

Image: Kari Perrin/Shutterstock Composite

Sarasota Opera is one of the city’s iconic arts organizations and ranks among the most popular in the country—and the Sarasota Opera House is a magnificent edifice. This weekend, however, the focus at the venue will not be on music, costumes and drama, but on wine and food.

From 1-4 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 23, Sarasota Opera will host a food and wine festival to benefit the Sarasota Youth Opera. Artistic director Victor DeRenzi maintains a commitment to education through performances at local schools and the Sarasota Youth Opera program, which is recognized as the most comprehensive youth opera program in the country.

This weekend's festivities will take place in the Opera House—on the stage, in the upper deck and in the Opera Club. Youth opera participants train on traditional operas, as well as works commissioned for their age group, and they will offer a series of performances from 2 to 3 p.m. in the middle of the event. When the Youth Opera is not performing, there will be a DJ to entertain guests.

Food for the gala will be provided by some of Sarasota’s most notable restaurants—including Jack Dusty (fish dip), Michael's on East (tuna burgers), Pier 22 (deviled eggs with bacon), Tzeva (hummus with smoked tomato chutney), Mattison’s (tequila-marinated hanger steak), Shore (tuna tartare with wonton crisps) and others.

But I'm interested mostly in the wines, which begin with Marsuret prosecco, in which a honeysuckle aroma leads to flavors of white peach and lemon zest, and Mercat cava, a sparkling wine with aromas of pear and brioche. Selections continue with a Figuière Magali rosé from southern France, which offers aromas of red berries and citrus that lead to intoxicating flavors of strawberries and tangerine. Novellum chardonnay from Roussillon, France, meanwhile, offers a powerful bouquet of carmelized lemon and honeyed almonds. Another white, Dometia picpoul de Pinet, is a delightful crisp wine also from France, with flavors of lemon and lime.

Reds begin with Tassajara pinot noir, evoking notes of cherries, blackberries and plums. Also available is Montinore Red Cap, with flavors of Bing cherry and red plum with a whiff of geranium. These award-winning wines will not be sold at the event, but can be purchased from the nearby 99 Bottles nearby, and other fine retailers, too.

Bob McGinn has spent his entire career in the wine industry—forming wine clubs, working in wine sales marketing and engaging in all facets of the winemaking process, including vine management, fermentation and yeast analysis. He has developed wine programs for companies such as Marriott, Sheraton and Smith & Wollensky, and consults with local restaurants. You can read more of McGinn’s work at gulfcoastwinejournal.com.

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