Each year, the East Tennessee March of Dimes chapter holds a wonderful event at Bristol Motor Speedway to raise money for our children. BMS is a compassionate contributor to any children’s charity and the annual March of Dimes Wine Tasting is always a bit under the radar and one of the best kept secrets around.

This was my seventh year and there’s a good chance that as long as I’m breathing – this will be on the calendar each year. It’s a great benefit with excellent food from local and regional restaurants, wonderful music and a great time in the suites high above the banks of Bristol.

Some may think the $50 ticket price is a bit pricey, but it’s worth every penny. The simple fact the money will be put to good use is good enough for me, but the two-hour experience with close friends is always a warm and cheerful reunion.

Tonight, there were some real standouts worth mentioning.

When we arrived, we rode the elevator to the luxury suites and were given a nice glass to keep with us through the night. I’ve learned the best place to start is the last room and work your way back upstream to avoid the crowds (there’s a nice insider tip).

Several of the suites are filled with banquet tables from local restaurants and there are different wines and spirits in each of the rooms. You duck into one, mingle with familiar and friends, top off a glass, try some food and on to the next. When you’re finished – repeat.

The organizers do a great job selling a limited number of tickets and several of the region’s best musicians are on hand to provide entertainment along your rotation.

This year, the best wine goes to the new Reedy Creek Winery here in Kingsport. I’m a red man (dry and complex), so I sampled all with due diligence and although there were several good wines – the petite syrah from Reedy Creek was the all-around favorite.

Paul Brandt was discussing this with me as we were standing out in the hall. He’s the owner of Inari Wines in Bristol and the win has a bright, crisp syrah flavor – not too sweet and distinct enough to ask for more. Several other people indicated the same favoritism for the new label which is now served and can be bought at their cellars located inside MeadowView Convention Center in Kingsport.

I will admit there was one room which seemed to be great interest to some of the folks in attendance at the wine-tasting. This is where the folks from VIP Scene magazine seemed to be gathered capturing local celebs for their magazine and there was a lot of reverie coming from the room serving moonshine.

Not that it was anything over the top. Moonshine is novelty these days and the labeled nectar is just a strong alcohol. The novelty for the evening was the fact they were serving in a thimble-sized chocolate cup. Ole Popcorn Sutton probably wouldn’t approve of the shot thrown back with a chocolate chaser, but it was a viral story buzzing around the event that everyone at least tried once.

There were plenty of well-dressed men and (have to admit) beautiful ladies at the taste tonight and that’s always a plus, but the wine and the food were the draw. Myself – I stuck to the wine, but there were some tasty dishes coming from every corner. Some of my own samples included delicious shrimp and grits, sweet potato casserole, carmel crusted bacon, grasshopper cheesecake and several chunks of cheese and other nimblers that were compliments to the wine.

The music was paired down to three acts this year and Hundred Acres seemed to have the lion share of people in the back room. They were in the last wine station and had a good rowdy mix of honky tonk that seemed to go over well with the crowd after the prior rooms with light acoustic music.

The two hours seemed to go by quickly, but I enjoyed catching up with several friends, clients and new introductions – that’s always the cherry on an event like this and one of the reasons why I’ll keep coming back year after year.

Here’s the list of restaurants and music from the night. Special thanks to the organizers for a wonderful 14th annual gathering and can’t wait to see what’s on the table next year.

Participating Restaurants & Chefs-

Stir Fry
Chocolate Elegance
Executive Chef Stacy Bedingfield
Earth Fare
Levy Restaurants
Food City Catering
Live Music Featuring 
Hundred Acres
Squash Blossoms
Jason Ellis