by Geno Thackara
It has to be one of the tastiest start-of-spring traditions out there. Since forming in 2014 by the Vintage Syndicate’s Kate Moroney and Panorama co-founder Bill Eccleston, Philly Wine Week has offered a deliciously sweet (and/or dry) way to mark the season for connoisseurs and amateurs alike. The fifth annual festival’s delightful pop-off at Cescaphe’s Vie on North Broad Street was well worth trudging through the lingering slush. Its planners had to scramble to make an unexpected move from the 23rd Street Armory – the original spot ended up getting suddenly taken over for the city’s snow-emergency preparations – but damned if they were going to finally make it to the end of winter and let a few last-minute flakes get in the way.
Thursday’s event was just the tip of the vine: 2018’s celebration of the grape continues through Thursday the 29th with over a hundred delicious events going on across the city. If you’ve ever wanted to make your own vermouth or learn about which kinds of wine pair best with cheesesteaks, this week is your chance. The more experienced can compete at wine-themed Quizzo or try identifying different varieties in a blind taste test (perhaps for a complimentary bottle if you’re good enough). Wine, Sangria, Madeira Monday- there’s something going on to celebrate them all. Go here for the full listing:
Opening Corks found the bustling Vie Ballroom packed with a happy crowd eager to sample everything the city has to offer. There were already enough varieties from around the world to do any such event proud. Pinot from Italy and merlot from France sat alongside South African blends and New Zealand rosé. Still, of course the terroir of southeast PA had to make a key feature of the night. There were no shortage of worldwide highlights throughout the room (a Portuguese Montecapucho fruit mix from Silver Coast Imports and D’Andrea’s rare red blend being particularly memorable), but there were more than a few of us continually drifting back to the locals’ bar where the Chadds Ford and Penns Woods wineries both offered some standout cabernet.
Just as important were the Tinto shrimp skewers, Townsend barbecue pork, Lacroix salmon and a dizzying range of other delicious bites from participating city restaurants. It feels unfair not to list them all, but anyone curious can keep exploring their pairings for the rest of Wine Week and beyond. Capping it off was a set of tables run by the Arts in the Industry publicity group, offering local artwork, hand-crafted jewelry and raffling off several gift baskets. In keeping with PWW’s spread-the-love ethic, the proceeds will all go to benefit disabled artists through the Center for Creative Works (http://www.centerforcreativeworks.org/).
Thursday was an evening full of big smiles and bigger laughs, and the coming week only promises to be more of the same. Whether you want a fun date night or evening out, an opportunity to try new things or just a good excuse for some daytime drinking without so much social disapproval, Philly Wine Week happily offers something for every taste.