SUBSCRIBE NOW

Glory of the Grape: New venue for Chamber wine-tasting event

Lance Shearer
Correspondent

Here is a prediction: although the food items for “The Glory of the Grape” are billed as “heavy hors d’oeuvres,” none of the patrons will be going out and eating a big dinner after leaving the event.

While the “Glory” is pitched as a wine event, man does not live by wine alone, and even woman might want to have something to cleanse the palate and provide ballast for the 17 different wines being offered at the annual Chamber of Commerce tasting.

Patrons enjoy an early-bird dinner at Chop 239. Wine and food pairings will tantalize the palate at "The Glory of the Grape," the Chamber of Commerce event hosted this year at Chop 239 on Sunday evening.

The wines will come from all of the globe’s major wine producing regions, said host Marco Porto, with a broad, all-encompassing theme. “The World Cup of Wine,” sort of an oenological preview of next year’s soccer World Cup.

While Porto said that, in general, there will be few changes from previous Glory of the Grape events, there will be one big change – his restaurant. The wine pairings have been hosted for many years at CJ’s on the Bay, but this year, for the first time, it will move across the Esplanade courtyard to Porto’s Chop 239.

“The Chamber wants the event to grow, and my restaurant can hold a larger number of people,” said Porto. CJ’s executive chef and general manager Laura Owen confirmed she will be attending for the first time as a guest, not in charge of putting together all the food items and supervising the wine pairings.
“It’s always good to get someone else’s perspective. We definitely offered to help out with organizing, but they’ve run with it,” Owen said of Marco and his wife and co-owner Deanna Porto. “I did get a sneak peek at the menu.”

Chop 239 chef Javier Sanchez sears lamb chops, an item that will be on Sunday's menu. Wine and food pairings will tantalize the palate at "The Glory of the Grape," the Chamber of Commerce event hosted this year at Chop 239 on Sunday evening.
Heavy hors d'oeuvres - lamb chops, an item that will be on Sunday's menu. Wine and food pairings will tantalize the palate at "The Glory of the Grape," the Chamber of Commerce event hosted this year at Chop 239 on Sunday evening.

That menu will feature a number of dishes regularly offered at Chop 239, but in many cases, prepared in a different manner from the restaurant’s regular fare. That includes baby lamb chops with a blackberry demi, paired with Morse Code shiraz from South Australia, or perhaps a Cecchi Chianti from Tuscany.

Sesame-encrusted ahi tuna in a wonton cup with Asian slaw will be paired with Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough Valley, with the option of a dry Riesling from Napa Valley. These are just a few of the pairings, with additional items including smoked salmon crostini, chorizo in puff pastry, blackened beef tips in Bearnaise sauce, clams casino, and shrimp, squid and scallop ceviche.

Patrons will pay $60 for unlimited tasting of food and wine, with proceeds going to the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce scholarship fund and other charitable efforts. Along with the food, tempting live auction lots will be offered up, giving bidders the chance to win about eight packages put together by chamber marketing director Katie O’Hara. These will include a “Marco Island Staycation,” featuring a two-night stay at the JW Marriott, plus additional goodies, and “Dining Out,” consisting of “an assortment of gift cards from fabulous local restaurants,” said O’Hara.

Chop 239 owner Marco Porto pours Morse Code shiraz, a wine that will be featured among the pairings. Wine and food pairings will tantalize the palate at "The Glory of the Grape," the Chamber of Commerce event hosted this year at Chop 239 on Sunday evening.
Chop 239 owner Marco Porto with Morse Code shiraz, a wine that will be featured among the pairings. Wine and food pairings will tantalize the palate at "The Glory of the Grape," the Chamber of Commerce event hosted this year at Chop 239 on Sunday evening.

CJ’s will stay involved, offering a dinner for eight hosted by Chef Laura as an auction package, and the “Great Outdoors” package will feature activities such as kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, perfect for burning off some of the calories taken in with all the wining and dining.

The popular event has sold out in the past, but in the new, larger venue, more guests can be accommodated, and tickets are still on sale, and will be offered at the door if still available on Sunday.

“We’re glad to be able to help out the chamber, and to introduce Chop 239 to people who have never been here,” said Marco Porto. Open since 2013, Chop 239 was formerly the site of Tara steakhouse.

As the Chamber notes, this is a 21 and over event. For tickets or more information, go online to marcoislandchamber.org, or call 239-394-7549.