What do you get when you cross a garden party with a war zone? The Wine Revolution at Brenner's on the Bayou this past Saturday afternoon.
Although the concept was inspired -- taste six French wines and their six American counterparts to discern the differences between them, then vote on your favorite French and favorite American wines with tiny, flag-shaped tokens -- the execution was less so. Saturday afternoon was flawless, weather-wise, which meant that all the ticket holders flocked to The Wine Revolution like ants to a picnic. This crush of people was well-contained by the sprawling, hilly grounds of Brenner's, but the wine and food had a difficult time keeping up with the crowd's demand.
Lines for a chicken kebab or a few slices of cheese stretched across the lawn, easily taking 20 minutes each. It was the kind of event where you jumped from one line to another, eating the nibble of food you'd been able to procure as you waited for the next bite ahead. If you were one of the patient few who waited until your plate was filled with crudites to take a seat somewhere and enjoy your food with a glass of wine, you were mostly out of luck, as there were only a handful of tables -- and those lucky enough to get a seat at them weren't moving.
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Brenner's had the inspired idea of spreading beautiful, multi-colored picnic blankets on the lawn to accommodate people who had given up and were simply sitting in the grass. But top-heavy wine glasses and women in sundresses don't play nicely with steep hills, slick with grass and spilled bits of food. Although pleasant to behold -- people perched keenly on Indian-inspired blankets, draped on verdant lawns -- the act of eating or drinking while sitting down was difficult at best.
In the end, I settled on wandering the lush grounds, enjoying the view onto the bayou and the calming sounds of the large stone fountain that anchors the top of Brenner's lawn, grabbing sips of wine where I could. Unfortunately, this didn't quite work out all the way either, as the wine at half the stations I visited had gone so quickly, the attendants merely poured water into my wine glass without even a word of apology or explanation.
Either that, or I looked drunk. But that would have been pretty difficult to do with only three half-glasses of wine to my name (not nearly enough information to cast a token into my favorite selection's bucket, suffice to say). Luckily, Spec's was still open when I left, and a bottle of Côtes du Rhône was calling to me from afar.