Everyone was having fun.

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A large crowd of folks in the food and wine industry gathered at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta Tuesday to sample food and wine that might be coming to a restaurant or wine shop near you.

It was the second annual Food, Wine and Spirits Show put together by Prime Wine & Spirits and Halperns’ Purveyors of Steak & Seafood. Restaurant owners and wine shop owners wandered from booth to booth tasting outstanding wines and mouth-watering seafood, steak, lamb, pork, duck, and all kinds of food. There even was someone giving out samples of Chicago hot dogs.

Augusta was well represented with representatives of Vineyard Wine Market, Ninth Street Wine Market, La Maison on Telfair, Manuel’s Bread Cafe and the Bottle Report.

Folks from Manuel’s and the Vineyard.


The owners of La Maison.

In no particular order, here are some of the great treats I sampled:
Lamb from Niman Ranch was melt-in-your-mouth good. The meat comes from a network of family farmers that raises their animals in a natural environment. They are free-range and don’t get added hormones or antibiotics. I drank a Barnett Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon with it while watching the Beluga whales swim. Barnett is a beautiful winery on Napa’s Spring Mountain. Sipping the wine and eating the lamb reminded me of the last time I visited Barnett and drank their wines with good friends while we sat on Rattlesnake Hill, looking across Napa Valley.

Sliders and divers: watching the Belugas frolic.


Some of the fish on display.

Boston Lobster Company served lobster pieces smothered in butter, which I washed down with some crisp Sauvignon Blanc and elegant Chardonnay from Van Ruiten. This was my first experience with this Lodi winery, and it won’t be my last. I tasted several of their wines, including an old vines Zin and a Cab/Shiraz blend that were terrific.

Van Ruiten had several nice wines.


Rustling up some Wagyu beef.

Stolpman Vineyards had a luscious Sangiovese, a great Syrah and an over-the-top Syrah called Hilltops High Density. They’re located in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Southern Slopes had several nice wines including PoiZin and 25 Lagunaas Malbec from Argentina. The Malbec was silky smooth, loaded with raspberry and soft tannins. And at under $10 it’s a wine my partner Dan (AKA the Cheap Bastard) could fall in love with.

32 Winds had some incredible Pinot Noir and Cabernet. The Pinot was refined and elegant, with good fruit but with plenty of muscle. The Cab was powerful, but supple and rich in fruit. I wasn’t familiar with this winery, but when I checked I realized why the wine was so good. Aside from the great vineyards from which they get their fruit, the winemaker is Ehren Jordan, who gained fame as Larry Turley’s winemaker and also owns Failla.

Vienna Beef was there, representing my favorite Chicago-style hot dogs. I ate one of them while watching Manta Rays and a huge whale shark swim. I washed it down with a delicious Unum Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from the Spring Mountain District. Don’t let anyone tell you hot dogs don’t go with wine. They’re a perfect combination if you get a great dog and a powerhouse wine like the Unum. The only thing missing was poppy seed buns.

Boedecker Cellars had some wonderful, elegant Pinot Noirs from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

JAQK (pronounced Jack) Cellars brought some beautiful Merlot and powerful Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.

The food and wine were incredible, making for one great rolling feast.

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Watching the rays and whale shark in the Georgia Aquarium tank while sipping wine was the thing to do Tuesday.

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