Charleston Wine + Food's Top 5 Moments

The festival happenings we're still talking about

It's hard for the uninitiated to wrap their heads around the magic of the Charleston Wine + Food festival, when everyone's favorite Southern city turns into the temporary epicenter of the food industry. Add free-flowing Champagne and rosé to the mix, and things are bound to get weird. From $8,000 wine pairings to midnight snacks of caviar-stuffed Iberico ham and foie gras chocolate bars, here's what you missed at the 12th annual festival.

① Dinner with the Dannys

Charleston real estate mogul Terri Henning opened up her $19.5 million penthouse for a $1,500-a-head Daniel Boulud Legacy Dinner, a coursed-out meal featuring food from six of Boulud's protégés, including NYC's Andrew Carmellini (who served a black truffle lasagna) and Michael Anthony. But it was Charleston Grill's GM, Mickey Bakst, who really outdid himself that evening, with wine pairings totaling up to $8,000 a table. Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer was also in attendance and proclaimed the wine lineup akin to "going to a concert of your favorite band and they played every song you wanted to hear."

Photo: Andrew Cebulka via Facebook

② Cocktails Made with Corn

Bob Peters, head mixologist of The Punch Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte in North Carolina, served a Hot Corn-on-Corn Action cocktail to partygoers at Nassau Street Sideshow, a late-night event that took place at popular hot spot Lewis Barbecue. The bourbon and popcorn simple syrup cocktail evoked everything you love about movie theater popcorn and was the perfect complement to the party's quirky circus theme.

③ Gail Simmons Gets Her Hands Dirty

Food & Wine's Gail Simmons shucked oysters and fed them to bigwigs like Daniel Boulud at an after-party at The Dewberry, Charleston's newest luxury hotel. Meanwhile, chef John May, of Piedmont in Durham, North Carolina, noshed on caviar-stuffed Iberico ham. "They were just sitting next to each other, and I don't get that opportunity often," he noted of the two delicacies he paired together in one luxurious bite.

④ McCrady's Invents the Foiechamacallit  

Tennessee chefs Erik Niel (Easy Bistro & Bar and Main Street Meats) and Matt Bolus (The 404 Kitchen) were overheard chatting about the epic meal at Charleston favorite McCrady's. Apparently, pastry chef Katy Keefe invented the Foiechamacallit—a candy bar consisting of cured foie gras married with peanuts, chocolate and caramel—and guests couldn't get enough.

⑤ Orange Wine Is the New Rosé

Husband-and-wife winemaking duo Megan and Ryan Glaab of Ryme Cellars in California created a buzz with their orange wine, Ribolla Gialla, during a dinner at Cypress, one of Charleston's iconic fine dining spots. While rosé is synonymous with warmer weather and lighter bites, orange wine is a "good food wine," Megan proclaimed, because it has enough tannins to hold up to stronger foods like local chef Bob Cook's hot smoked snapper dish.