A la Carte: Wine and felines

Event at the Marco Island Yacht Club benefits shelter

Wine and cats may not be a tasty combination, but over the weekend, the two were paired for a good cause.

For the Love of Cats, a no-kill animal shelter specializing in rescuing cats and kittens and finding homes for them, held a wine tasting at the Marco Island Yacht Club Saturday evening.

Over 80 supporters of the organization mingled, nibbled hors d’oeuvres and sampled 10 different wines. They bid on a selection of wine baskets in a silent auction and enjoyed the piano stylings of volunteer entertainer Steve Purciello.

All the wine for the event was donated by Island Liquors.

“We believe in the cats,” said owner Jim Karl. “These people work so hard, we’re happy to be there for them.”

Karl worked with Scott Shigley, head sommelier, or wine steward, selecting the wines for the tasting and concentrating on affordable bottles that offered excellent value, Karl said.

Two clear favorites among the crowd were the Montes Malbec, under $10 a bottle, and the 7 Deadly Zins, a Zinfandel, the priciest wine of the evening at over $15.

“Jammy, with hints of chocolate and white pepper, and a fabulous value,” Paul Toth of Naples announced after trying the 7 Deadly Zins. The tasting notes handed out chose to stress its “vibrant bouquet of raspberry jam, molasses and cinnamon toast.”

Leann Toth spoke well of the Santa Rita 120 Shiraz, which had “ripe red fruit and floral notes of lavender and violet, toffee, and toasted notes of chocolate and coffee,” according to the tasting notes.

Leanne Farnum of Marco, who volunteers at For the Love of Cats, declared the Malbec “a lovely little wine, unassuming and a good quaffer.”

To quaf a wine means to sip a wine for itself, as opposed to overindulging for the sake of intoxication.

“This organization is a labor of love,” said volunteer Becky Kilkeary, of Marco Island and Pittsburg. “We really are here for the love of cats.” She sampled the Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio, and rated it excellent.

Linda Crouch of Naples recently became the adopted parent of a cat from the shelter. Zorro, she said, is “a special cat – I just love him. This was a very nice event, well attended, and the hors d’oeuvres were delicious.”

Cindy Crane got into the spirit of the evening, topping off her outfit with a pair of kitty-cat ears. “I have boxes full of costumes. I love anything we can dress up for.” Her favorite wine, she said, was the shiraz.

For the Love of Cats brought in about $3,000 at the wine tasting, said event organizer Jan Rich. In addition to Island Liquors, she thanked the Marco Island Yacht Club, whose board of directors waived the banquet fee, the businesses that donated items for the silent auction and the volunteers who make the organization work.

The money raised goes directly to the cat and kitten rescue efforts, veterinary expenses, spay and neuter fees and general shelter care for the felines awaiting permanent homes.

“We’re a small group of very passionate people,” Rich said. “The best day of our lives is when kittens go to a loving home, and we know it’s a forever home for them. We get cards from the people who take these cats in, and they send us pictures.”

One special cause for celebration at the event was the adoption of two feral kittens, named Buttons and Bows, who had been found underneath an abandoned trailer in East Naples. Beating the odds, the two were conditioned to socialize with people, and ended up being adopted, one after the other, by the same family.

Every Saturday and Sunday, volunteers from For the Love of Cats take potential adoptees to PetSmart in Naples to find homes for them. To learn more about the work of this 501(c)3 charitable group, go to floridacatrescue.com or call 239-642-8674.

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