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Toast of the Town

What makes a city great?

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Many would say that it's the arts and culture that set a place apart. Others, including myself, would argue that what a city has to offer in food and wine is what gives it its unique flavor. Luckily, each spring, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art hosts the Art of Good Taste, a series of events that nourishes both aspects of our city.

Among the Art of Good Taste events are "Brooks Uncorked," a wine-tasting, dinner, and auction on Friday, April 10th; the black-tie Patrons Dinner on Friday, May 8th; and the Grand Auction (and wine-tasting) on Saturday, May 9th.

Mark Parker is a co-chair of "Brooks Uncorked." "What prompted me to get involved is how inclusive and special it is," he says."So it's important to me to stress that the Art of Good Taste is for people who are interested in wine, regardless of their level of knowledge or expertise. I've been into wine for a few years, but I wouldn't necessarily call myself a wine geek."

Wines from Spring Mountain, a sub-region of Napa Valley, will be highlighted at "Brooks Uncorked" and the Patrons Dinner.

"[Art of Good Taste co-chair] Frank Muscari was the one who led us to Spring Mountain," says Parker, who notes that one of the perks of being involved in such events is discovering new wines. "He has been interested in this region for years and has been collecting wines from that area for quite some time."

At "Brooks Uncorked," more than 80 wines will be poured alongside a gourmet spread prepared by Brushmark chef Wally Joe and chef de cuisine Andrew Adams. Guests can mingle, sip wine, and bid on a multitude of items in a silent auction.

"This year's theme is 'Spring Fever,' and we are lucky — truly lucky — to have 12 winemakers from the Spring Mountain District coming to Memphis for this event," Parker says. "That's more than any other year."

Spring Mountain vintners will also attend the Patrons Dinner and the Grand Auction.

"The wineries of Spring Mountain are excited to be featured at this year's Art of Good Taste," says Sheldon Richards, president of the Spring Mountain District Association. "Spring Mountain is farmed on steep hillside terraces. The terroir — soil, altitude, weather — is very, very different from the valley floor, so the vines struggle somewhat. That struggle results in much more intense flavors in our wines."

Says Richards, "With a dozen wineries participating in these events, I think Memphis is in for a great weekend."

Even amid all the food and wine, Art of Good Taste attendees tend to remember the reason they are all there: to support the Brooks. "The Napa wine community as a whole is a very generous sponsor of education

and the arts, both in Napa and across the country," Richards says.

Richards also offers up some practical advice on making it through all the events: "Come with an open mind, drink a lot of water, and wear a dark shirt!"

For more information, visit theartofgoodtaste.org or call 544-6209.

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