EATS, DRINKS + CELEBRATE | Learn how to perfectly pair food and wine, just in time for the Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival PLUS our Sangaree wine cocktail recipe

The 15th Annual Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival returns to the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront on Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7.

Spend a spring weekend at Town Point Park sampling a variety of more than 200 wines from Virginia’s premier wineries. 

Named one of the top food and drink festivals in the country by Business Insider, the event, hosted by Norfolk Festevents, is one of the region’s most anticipated wine festivals. 

Here more than 25 of Virginia’s top wineries pour their best vintages against the beautiful Elizabeth River.

Enjoy gourmet foods, specialty merchants, live music, and more. 
All wines presented during the festival are available for purchase by the bottle or case throughout each day.


Planning to the 15th Annual Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival ? Here’s some of my top tips for pairing food and wine that l that I’ve developed over my quarter century experience in food and wine:


While the basic mantra of “drink what you like” holds true much of the time, sometimes there are some things to keep in mind before pairing that bottle of Virginia wine with food. Here are our 10 Top Tips on pairing:

1. Consider the body or richness of the food and the wine; the pairing should be of similar weight so that one does not overpower the other.

2. How is the dish prepared? Smoked? Baked? Sauted? A piece of roasted chicken is different than a piece of fried chicken.

3. Achieving balance: complex flavors in food should be paired with simple-flavored wines; complex-flavored wines should be paired with food with simple flavors. 

4. Look for similar flavor qualities in the dish and in the wine. 

5. Acidic dishes, like a chicken in lemon sauce, usually goes better with acidic dishes. 

6. Spicy foods are best served with sweeter wines to balance the heat; crisp wines also go with spicy. 

7. Creamy usually goes with creamy, like a velvety Viognier paired with a dish in a cream sauce; creamy dishes also go with crisp wines. 

8. Pair with the predominate element of the dish; look at the sauce first. Often wines that are used in a sauce are also excellent to pair with the dish.

9. Sweet usually goes with sweet, but consider the body/weight of the wine; typically the wine should be sweeter than the food. 

10. Sparkling wine is always a good default. 

Got that bottle of vino home and want to make a special drink to share with family and friends? Try my Sangaree, a recipe from my book “Virginia Distilled: 400 Years of Drinking in the Old Dominion.”

Here’s how:

Like so many imbibes in the eighteenth century, Sangaree is a type of punchand was a popular eighteenth century drink. It was first noted in “British Gentleman’s Magazine” in a 1736 issue as “a punch seller in the Strand had devised a new punch made of strong Madeira wine and called Sangre.” It seems, however, that the drink may have actually had its origin in the Antilles and possibly other Caribbean islands.

It became a favorite drink throughout American colonies. 

The beverage’s name comes from the Spanish word, sangre, meaning blood, and is derived for it’s name for it’s blood-red hue. It’s a precursor to the more commonly known sangria, which was also enjoyed in Colonial Virginia. 

Sangaree wos traditionally made with a fortified wine, sugh as madiera or even port; we use a favorite red wine of ours that we have on hand, and preferably a Virginia wine. We further enhance the drink with a spirit like gin or rum; we like gin with this drink as a nod to the London Gin Craze of the era. 


1 lemon wedge

1/4 ounce simple syrup or 1/2 teaspoon confectionary sugar

1-1/2 ounces red wine

1 ounce gin or rum

Fresh nutmeg

1 lemon slice


In a cocktail shaker squeeze lemon wedge and toss in. Add sugar, wine, gin or rum, and ice. Shake and strain in coupe glass. Garnish with lemon slice and a dusting of nutmeg. 

Yields 1 cocktail.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s