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Mar 21, 201808:05 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

The Best Way to Learn and Have Fun

Robert Owen-Wahl, Getty Images, 2006


It’s amazing how ill-prepared human beings are for their lives. We actually know very little about living our lives and being self-sufficient. We can whine and cry, dirty our diapers, eat and drink, and breath without outside assistance, but having the necessary knowledge or the tools to make a good case for our existence, well, fish are better prepared. But not in a culinary sense.

There are areas of our education that require attention, experience, asking questions and experimentation. If we have an abiding interest, all the better. If it seems like work, then we make it so.

Learning about wine falls all over the spectrum. Some of us just think it is too much effort. Others love to put in the time which in the final analysis adds to our enjoyment. Most of us fall somewhere along the line between “I’m tired of this,” and “Let’s not stop now.”

But, and this has always struck me about most things, what would happen if the education was more enjoyable, easier? How about we are exposed to a little bit of hard data and we continue along having a good time?

How did you learn to ride a bike? You had an idea that it would be fun, and your parents, or some responsible adult, made you get on the bike. In the beginning that was more than a little scary, a bit hard to do, and, even with training wheels, challenging to our sense of well-being. Yet, we did finally “get it.”

Learning about wine is just like that. Seems it’s something we should enjoy but what the hell are all these details, strange place-names, odd fruit types, and phrases that describe some sensation in our senses but often not really the way we perceive what is going on in there?

We New Orleanians think that most of life’s bumps are best resolved with a festival. And in this instance, that is exactly what works best for wine education. Go somewhere there are a lot of different wines; there are experts who can answer truly stupid questions which we all have, but under normal circumstances, are ashamed to ask.

You know me well enough to know that I would not have raised this topic if I did not have an answer, a suggestion.

Right around the corner on the calendar, and right down the road on the map via I-10, is the 32nd Annual Sandestin Wine Festival in Destin, Florida. April 12-15.  Warm weather, white sandy beaches, beautiful people and loads of wines from all over the world, poured by professionals who really know their adult beverages. I am not making this up. Yes, it’s almost too good to be true. But it is true.

You can roam around the lovely Village at Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin. You are going to feel very much at home in this place because the architects borrowed liberally from New Orleans. While there is a “beachy” vibe, the night spots, restaurants, pedestrian paths and foliage are right out of our city. Down to the daiquiri shops, bars that feature twin dueling pianos, Another Broken Egg restaurant, and Acme Oyster Bar. Familiar fun.

During the wine festival, stands are erected along the walking paths which surround lagoons, and more than 400 wines from around the world are freely poured by people who can answer those aforementioned pesky questions.

You won’t regret attending, tasting, savoring, eyeballing, and, after each day’s events, heading to the beach for a Florida sunset on the Gulf while resting on a towel spread over white sugar-sand, or while sailing on the Bay. I guess it can get better, but at the moment nothing comes to mind.


The Sandestin Wine Festival

Sandestin Resort

April 12-15, 2018





Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com every other Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed and stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine.




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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.


Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.


Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.


Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.


They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.


Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.


Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.


It’s a good gig. 




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