Glass half full: Visitors toast a quiet wine festival in Williamsburg

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King of cones: Barbados chef Michael Hinds served an amazing pulled pork in paper cones.
Local brand: Mariah Kunkel poured a Bees Knees cocktail made with Brooklyn Gin.
Raise a glass: Christine Knox and Kathie Cooke, visiting from Florida, filled their tasting glasses with water to cleanse the palate before their next expedition into red wines.
Step and pose: Tianna Porter and Elisa Salazar, both from Queens, said that the Taste of Brooklyn Festival had stepped up its game in terms of food at the festival.

They had a wine old time!

The 11th-annual Toast of Brooklyn wine festival brought about 1,000 booze enthusiasts to the sixth and seventh floors of a Williamsburg tower on Saturday. Attendance fell short of the previous year in Bedford-Stuyvesant, when 3,000 people came to the event, according to organizers, who attributed the drop-off to the new location.

“We wanted to try something different,” said spokeswoman Sharon Leid. “That may have been a factor.”

But visitors were enthusiastic about the event, including one tourist who had just heard about it.

“We just stumbled on it — and we’re probably going to stumble out!” quipped Christine Knox, who was visiting with friend Kathie Cooke from Florida.

Another attendee, who had run the New York Marathon the week before, said that the event was her first chance at indulgence after a long period of training.

“This is the first time I’ve gotten drunk in six months,” said Elisa Salazar. “I’m doing it at the right place!”

She and her friend Tianna Porter, who have each attended the Toast of Brooklyn Festival in the past, said she was impressed with the selection of almost 80 vendors.

“They always have a wide variety — it’s not just wine, but liquors and sake,” said Salazar.

The pair also said that the event really stepped up in terms of food. This year, a dozen chefs served Caribbean dishes at stations around the two-floor event, interspersed with wine merchants and liquor distributors.

Chef Michael Hinds, who runs two restaurants in Barbados, served up delicious bites of pulled pork seasoned with tamarind and aged rum. The chef said that he was happy to promote his country as a destination for foodies.

“We are marketing Barbados not just as a destination for sand and sun, but a culinary destination,” he said.

A silent auction and raffle also raised money for the Caribbean Tourism Organization Foundation, though final numbers were not available by press time.

Wine distributor Anthony Armstead, who was serving, among other products, a combination of vodka and tequila called “Vodkila,” said that his product had no problem appealing to a crowd of wine enthusiasts.

“People are always looking for something different,” said Armstead. “And we’re giving them the best of both worlds.”

He said that the Toast of Brooklyn had a good track record of hosting events.

“This is our fourth time,” he said. “We always have a great time.”

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Posted 5:00 pm, November 13, 2018
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