Big Reds and Bubbles

The holidays are upon us: A fantastic kickoff with Big Reds & Bubbles

The holidays are upon us: A fantastic kickoff with Big Reds & Bubbles

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Lamarca Prosecco Lady starts things off with style. Photo by Matt McGinnis
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Catherine Rasor, Cory Elwell and Luisa Bickly Photo by Matt McGinnis
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Steve Tipton, Wine & Food Foundation President and Michael Russel, Foundation Board Member. Photo by Matt McGinnis
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John Roenigk, owner of The Austin Wine Merchant Photo by Matt McGinnis
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Kent Lance Jr. and Janelle Braun, Wine & Food Foundation of Texas board members. Photo by Matt McGinnis
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Barley Swine chef, Bryce Gilmore, Jack Allen Kitchen chef, Jack Gilmore, Cafe Josie chef, Charles Mayes Photo by Matt McGinnis
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Scott Ota, Advanced Sommelier for the Driskill Grill, Bill Elsey, TexSom Best Sommelier 2011 and Craig Collins, Master Sommelier Photo by Matt McGinnis
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Katherine Leddy and Ray Barr Photo by Matt McGinnis
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_Mark Bergeron
Paulina Tavera and Mark Bergeron Photo by Matt McGinnis
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Dominique and Will Douglas Photo by Matt McGinnis
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Celebrity chef Brad Sorenson Photo by Matt McGinnis
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Austin Dennis and Wade Mincher Photo by Matt McGinnis
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Jane Rash, Rob Reynolds, Carol Willis and Shae Anami Photo by Matt McGinnis
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_prosecco lady
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_rasor
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_steve tipton
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_john roenigk
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_Kent lance
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_bryce jack gilmore
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_scott ota
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_ray bar
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_Mark Bergeron
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_dominique and will douglas
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_brad sorenson
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_Austin wade
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt McGinnis_Big reds and bubbles_Nov 2011_Jane rash

You know what makes a kick-ass party? A soirée where you are greeted by a gorgeous lady dressed in an elaborate champagne-laden dress. A bash attended by lots of happy people in festive clothing.  A bacchanalian festival with an absurdly huge selection of prestigious wines and delectable treats from 19 of Austin’s hottest chefs. That’s exactly the kind of party 350 people enjoyed last night at the sold-out Big Reds & Bubbles held at the Driskill.   

Big Reds & Bubbles is not only a party; it’s also a fundraiser for the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas, with dollars coming from ticket sales and the silent auction. Sounds like a perfect way to raise money. Get a bunch of wine aficionados and foodies lubricated with the good stuff and tempt them with the opportunity to “win” really nice wines like 1955 Bordeaux, 2000 vintage Dom Pérignon champagne, 3L and 5L large format bottles and cult wines; then let the check books bleed.

Marshall Jones, Executive Director, looking suave as hell in a black velvet jacket, casually tells me the Foundation puts the money to good use. They pay out the fattest culinary scholarship and largest dedicated pastry scholarship in the country. In addition to that, the Foundation is the leading underwriter of the TexSom beverage conference. Spreading the fertilizer to grow the next crop of brilliant chefs and sommeliers is an august cause.

Big Reds is all about connecting people with the chefs and sommeliers that create fine dining experiences. Jones and foundation members know that great wine and food is dependent on a vibrant community. To get the event started on that path, they held a VIP tasting of four rosé champagnes hosted by Master Sommeliers, Craig Collins and Guy Stout. John Antonelli of Antonelli's Cheese Shop described the cheeses paired with each wine. You can’t ask for a better educational experience.

There were plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with the culinary elite. Celebrity Chef, Brad Sorenson, provided a bit of comic relief as the MC. He comes across as a young and handsome version of Conan O’Brien with his boisterous personality and tall, lanky form. He drew attention to some gems from A-list chefs and stand-out wines like the father and son duo Jack Allen Kitchen Executive Chef, Jack Gilmore, and Barley Swine Chef, Bryce Gilmore.

It turns out the Foundation has been throwing this bash every year for nine years. Big Reds & Bubbles got its start as way to kick off the holidays. Since the start Glazer’s has partnered with the Foundation to introduce its stand-out wines like 2008 Nickel & Nickel Cabernet, 2007 Chateau Montelena and 2008 Dunn Vineyards to average Joes. If you ask this average Joe, it’s a fantastic way to ring in the holiday bender season.  

So who was out sipping bubbles and red wine from 85 different wineries? It was a great mix of wine industry types, like Master Sommelier Craig Collins, Pedernales Cellars President, Fredrik Osterberg, Foundation board members and lots of people eager to have a great time.