“Toast of the Town” VIP Tickets Giveaway

How would you like to taste 500 premium wines and spirits, and nosh on gourmet creations from more than 30 top Bay Area restaurants — all in one spot?

And uh-hem, how’d you like to do all that for FREE?

Two lucky folks can.

Food Gal is thrilled to be giving away one pair of VIP tickets to “Toast of the Town,” a wine and food extravaganza at the stunning War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, a short hop from the Phoenix Hotel-Civic Center.

The April 22 event, presented by Wine Enthusiast magazine and the Wall Street Journal, benefits the San Francisco Food Bank.

Participating restaurants include Farallon Restaurant in San Francisco, Le Mar Cebicheria Peruana in San Francisco, and Mustards Grill in Napa. Participating wineries include Archery Summit, Champagne Louis Roederer, Rubicon Estate and Domain Drouhin.

Tickets are $89 (or $79 if purchased by April 1).  VIP tickets are $169 (or $149 if purchased by April 1).

With the VIP tickets, you get in at 5 p.m. — two hours earlier than regular ticket holders — to beat the crowds to all that tasty food and wine.

So how do you score the free pair of VIP tickets?

With Wine Enthusiast a main sponsor, I thought it only appropriate to ask you to answer this question: “What gets you most enthusiastic about wine?”

The best answer will win the tickets. Obviously, the contest is open only to those who know they will be in San Francisco on April 22 for the event.

Deadline to enter: End of the day, April 3. Winner will be announced on April 5.

To get you started, here’s my own answer to the question: What gets me most enthusiastic about wine? The fact that it’s always a mouthful of surprises. Every wine, even if it’s the same grape or the same vintage, is so different. The nuances are forever revealing themselves. Cocktails may be fun and showy. But wine is classic. To me, there’s no better way to relax with good friends and family than to share an interesting bottle of wine.

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  • What gets me excited about wine is the way it brings people together. Standing in a Napa tasting room, you’ll find people from all over the country – and world – assembled to try the current releases. Being able to bond with friends, family, and even strangers, over a crisp, dry white, or a deep, velvety red is always a wonderful experience.

  • What gets me excited about wine is the thrill of discovery. There are so many wines out there, especially from little-known, boutique wineries. We have our tried-and-true favorites, but it’s always a nice surprise when we try something new on a whim and come away impressed.

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  • What gets me excited about wine is that is the signifier that a lovely evening has begun, whether I’m at home with my husband, at a great restaurant, or best of all, over at some friends’ house.

  • I love the labels. That may sound superficial – the whole “can’t judge a book by its cover” thing. But I love the artistry behind wine labels. Some are instantly recognizable – Ravenswood, for example. I’ve thought about getting that tattooed on me somewhere. Others are just plain clever – Red Truck or Big Dog. Overall, I’m impressed by the amount of creativity that goes into a label’s design even when the wine doesn’t quite measure up.

  • I love the fact that wine has a chameleon like quality. Your perception of wine changes with the food that it is being served with, your mood and the place too. How many times have you had a bottle of wine on vacation and thought that it was the best thing EVER, only to be absolutely disappointed when you try to recreate the experience at home? A great bottle of wine to me is a compilation of several things–first and foremost, relaxing and sharing with friends and family. Next comes the quality of the wine. A good bottle can become great with the right people and a great bottle can become unremarkable too.

  • What gets me so excited about wine is that you can never drink the same one twice. Sure, you can open another bottle of that same vintage, but even if it is a day later, that wine has changed in some almost indefinable way. And just as I love a few wines (Ridge’s 2006 Geyserville springs to mind) I know that drinking it today is nothing like drinking it 6 months ago. Our lives are a lot like wine. We can try to return to old memories and places, but going back over and over again isn’t nearly as rewarding as enjoying the newness of each day.

  • Thank you for stopping by and giving me such a lovely compliment!
    Unfortunately,I will not be in the San Fran. area but this I do know,that you are going to make someone very happy with this prize! Judging from the beautiful photo at the top of your post, the cuisine will definitely complement the spirits !

  • Wine is a living breathing thing. I always love being surprised by a bottle of wine, especially when it attaches to a great memory. (Like someone’s birthday, a random party, an impromptu picnic, even a “unspecial” special occasion, like a quiet evening with friends watching some silly TV show or movie.)

  • Love the question, perfect after a day of tasting in Paso Robles!

    Wine is community. You can ask friends and colleagues to meet over a glass of wine. You welcome people with a glass of wine (at least I do!) when they come to your home. You celebrate life with wine.

    You don’t have to be an expert to love wine. It is accessible and inaccessible all at once because it is subjective. Which means it is also a topic of conversation. That brings me full circle in my analysis that wine is community because even if you have nothing in common with the stranger next to you, you can create community by sharing your thoughts on wine.

  • The best thing about opening a bottle of wine is the anticipation of the taste after all that you put into selecting it. You learn all you can about the winery, the varietal, the region, the vintage. You read endless opinions on the wine, subscribe to Wine Spectator, read all the popular blogs, see what experts and other wine lovers alike think of the wine. You decide the perfect age and occasion to open it, prepare a meal especially to compliment it, and then you finally get to the point. You taste the wine and decide for yourself if it was worth all the hype, the wait, the cost! Many times it doesn’t, but every so often it does. And that makes the anticpation completely worth it!

    (I am submitting this on behalf of my husband, a true wine lover who has taken over our spare bedroom and his parents’ living room with 4 wine cellars, in addition to cases and cases of wine that didn’t make the cut of being stored in the cellars but are somehow important enough to buy despite not having the space!).

  • What gets me most enthusiastic about wine?

    Two things really, one is that my husband now likes wine – hurray, it was absolutely no fun drinking by myself and makes traveling to Europe so much more enjoyable. He is also become more discerning so while we are not crazy he’s moved beyond 2 Buck Chuck as being perfectly acceptable for all occasions – thanks goodness!

    Two – I love the nuances, and the mysteries – I’d never consider myself a wine expert; I love tasting wine side by side and discovering even the same grape can have a love/hate relationship with a wine maker and learning through tasting and sniffing how they emphasize certain features in the wine. I’ve really come to appreciate the importance of pairing and how that can either enhance a meal or cause a war on the taste buds as each complete for total domination.

  • I have enthusiastically been lucky enough to visit Chile, Argentina, France, Italy and a host of US wine regions, all for the love of wine and how it has captured the American imagination and changed the look of dinner tables in every nook and cranny of the country. It’s the most democratic of beverages, accessible to all, ever changing, new with every vintage. It has arrived.

  • Take an ordinary wine, such as merlot, and you pair it with a homey dish like spaghetti bolognese, the flavors of the merlot explode in your mouth. Both components enhance and complement each other. Its the interaction between the two that dance upon my palette that makes me crazy for wine.

  • Contest is now closed. Check by on Monday to see who won the VIP tickets.

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