Welcome to this month’s “you ask and I’ll answer.” For those of you just tuning in, you can find me at, Michael@passionvines.com. I welcome you to email me with any wine related questions and I will use this monthly column to answer them.

Q: Devon from Linwood asks, “Are there any wine events coming up that you recommend?”

A: Perfect timing, Devon, as we have one of the region’s best wine events of the year in October. The seventh production of The Right Notes (TRN), presented by The Donovan Financial Group of UBS Financial Services, will be held on Thursday, Oct. 17, at Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point.

Full disclosure, TRN is very personal. It was inspired by the many ways in which multiple sclerosis has impacted our lives. My mom, Jayne Bray, was diagnosed with MS 30 years ago, and finding a cure has been the charitable focus of Passion Vines since our inception. Over 400 individuals in Cape May and Atlantic counties are living with MS today.

For the past six years, TRN has been a collaborative effort by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Passion Vines Wine & Spirit Company and Greate Bay Country Club. TRN consistently delivers a fulfilling night of wine, music, and philanthropy, and it remains the only fundraising event of its kind in South Jersey. The evening’s main event is a large-scale wine tasting, featuring more than 100 top-scoring wines from around the world. In addition to the impressive wine offerings, we will also feature a prominent selection from acclaimed brewers and mixologists, including Bobby “G” Gleason, Master Mixologist of Beam Global Spirits & Wine, who will entertain guests with his performative and informative cocktail-making. Spirit-lovers will enjoy sampling items from Atlantic City’s Little Water Distillery, Alibi Gin and more.

In addition to Greate Bay’s always-delicious fare, we are honored to incorporate culinary creations from one of the local area’s renowned restaurant, Steve & Cookie’s of Margate.

A live musical performance by an upbeat jazz trio will accompany the evening and guests will have the opportunity to contribute to live and chance auctions, including a beautiful 18K White Gold Sapphire & Diamond Circle Drop necklace that has been kindly donated by Roberts Fine Jewelers of Northfield.

And the best part of it all!? The funds raised by The Right Notes will assist local people living with MS right now by helping to support the Society’s MS Navigator program and increase the quality of care available to patients through its Physician Fellowship program. Through generous support of sponsors and our community, TRN has raised over $367,000 since its inception.

Are you hooked yet and wondering what to wear? This year’s theme, “A Touch of Orange,” encourages guests to wear a splash of the vibrant hue in honor of the MS Society.

Q: Allow me the next question, since it always comes up as we approach the event: “Am I really supposed to sample all 100+ wines? How do I navigate a grand tasting of this size?”

A: My quick answer is no, you don’t have to sample all of the wines. Walking into a room with over 100 wines is intimidating, even to a professional. Here are three tricks to allow you to make the most of your time:

1. Use your program book. Any event of this size should have a book of wines being tasted. Here you will learn about format, themes, order, regions and varietals. If there is a not a predetermined order and or starting point, I highly recommend you begin with what you would love to learn more about. For example, perhaps you have an interest in Pinot Noir, French wine, or maybe the region of Piedmont itself, seek out these tables/wines first.

2. Develop a system of like and dislike as you begin to taste your way. Something as simple as a check-mark for those you like. If you’re feeling ambitious, a scale of 1-5 (5 indicating you absolutely LOVE a wine).

3. Don’t be afraid to spit. Most tastings have spit buckets for a reason. No one is expected to drink it all. Quite frankly, this allows you to taste more and taste responsibly.

Should you find yourself at Greate Bay Country Club on Oct. 17, please make it a point to say hello. I would be honored to say hello as well as provide some guidance to the evening.

Lastly, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your time and readership. Your engagement helps to create a thriving community that continues to advance confidently.



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