Turning Wine Into Hope: Wine on Wheels

Turning Wine Into Hope

 


Each spring since 2012, New York City’s finest hospitality professionals gather for what is now known as one of the most anticipated wine events of the year. Wine on Wheels is the main fundraising initiative of Wheeling Forward, a substantial contributor in assisting individuals with spinal cord disability obtain a proper support system, resources, and services needed to continue active and fruitful lives. Wheeling Forward has earned a reputation of understanding first hand how each disability impacts every person’s life uniquely.

Founders Alex Elegudin and Yannick Benjamin met after sustaining spinal cord injuries in the same month. At the time, Alex was 19 and Yannick, 25. Both young and determined to persevere, Alex returned to school and became an attorney. Yannick went to college while becoming an esteemed sommelier. After years of volunteering in the disability community, Alex and Yannick decided to use their experience, talent and individual networks to tackle challenging, underserved areas of need. In 2011, Wheeling Forward was manifested with the assistance of several committed board members.

For the last 8 years, Wheeling Forward has provided many with the motivation and resources to resume active lives!

This is why Wine on Wheels is so important!

In February of 2012, Yannick and Alex hosted the first ever Wine on Wheels Grand Tasting. Yannick, always motivated to serve others invoked his peers from the restaurant community to join the cause! Each year since, more and more budding Sommeliers, Chefs and wine enthusiasts have gathered at the Wine on Wheels Grand Tasting to display hospitality in true definition: the virtue of caring for others.

The grand tasting, is a day when wine aficionados and wine novices alike can gather together to learn and enjoy – for the benefit and support of those in need.

From the support of the restaurant industry’s best, Wheeling Forward is now recognized as hospitality driven, innovative and consists of a constantly growing and effective group of self giving advocates dedicated to enrich the lives of the disabled community.

There are many way to become apart of the Wine on Wheels tradition. You can assist in changing the lives of many! Visit Wine on Wheels to learn how!

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Savoring Sardinia

Tucked between Spain and Tunisia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean. An individualistic region of the Italian Republic, Sardinia is home to spectacular beauty, ancient history, and of course, mouth watering sips and savors for the food enthusiast. The Sardinians have defended themselves from the Phoenicians, Romans, Egyptians, and the Byzantines. With its jagged cliffs and mountain formed walls, Sardinia has even survived a horrific volcanic past. The outcome of such characteristics has resulted in a present day paradise for the jetset, the overly stressed American, and even the wine lover.

On the northwest coast, protected by ancient walls and cannons is the Catalan- influenced city of Alghero. Regarded as one of the finest wine regions in Sardinia, Alghero offers a promising terroir that is heavily influenced by its coastline where significant pride is taken in the vines of Cantina Santa Maria La Palma. Since 1959, Cantina Santa Maria La Palma has allocated and preserved the characteristics of Sardinian tradition. In a cooperative setting utilizing modern technology, Cantina Santa Maria La Palma offers a harmonious fusion of old world mentality with new world method. 

The Vines of Santa Maria La Palma

Mostly known for their delicious Vermentino and Cannonau (a grape derived from Grenache); Cantina Santa Maria La Palma has also rediscovered and revived two equally prestigious grape varieties unique to Sardinia: Monica and Cagnulari. Both varieties are remnants of Spanish antiquity and date back to the 11th century. These varieties require care and attention to cultivate, but not in vain. Monica and Cagnulari provide beautiful wine that may be considered to have more qualities in common with Spanish than Italian wine. The limited quantities produced offer a sense of exotic refinement which one will only receive in Sardinia. 

At of glance, the traditional cuisine of Sardinia reveals the intriguing fact that the people not only eat what is available, but also eat what is considered to be edible. With an abundance of artichokes, seafood, figs, nuts, wines and cheeses at their fingertips; it is no wonder the people of Sardinia are considered to have one of the longest life expectancies in the world. Casu Marzu, a Sardinian delicacy has been enjoyed for centuries. The rotten sheep milk cheese is literally alive containing larvae. Don’t worry, they are barely noticeable – unless they jump at you! Derived from Pecorino, casu marzu goes beyond usual fermentation and is served for enjoyment decomposed. The acid from the larvae breaks down the cheese’s fat making the texture of the cheese soft, spreadable and becomingly sour. Though it is now illegal, Sardinian’s still produce casu marzu, and are eager to share this local tradition with a crisp glass of Passito, though, Cannonau is another likely accompaniment. 

Casu Marzu

Meat, as one would imagine is not too sparingly consumed. However, su porcheddu, in the local dialect, or suckling pig, is reserved for feasts and celebrations. The dish is associated with agro pastoral cuisine, but has become quite the fine dining delicacy. Suckling pig, a babe between 20 to 40 days old is so buttery and so delicate because it has contained a diet of only its mother’s milk. The method of roasting directly above lit coals and ash causes a spectacle, but more importantly contributes to the crackling being crunchy and absolutely mouth watering. I guarantee, suckling pig will never taste the same again after leaving Sardinia. Savor with a glass of the local Cagnulari, as a true Sardinian. 

Food and wine is only one aspect of a country, yet it is one of the most persistent in growing awareness. Being able to understand food traditions helps us to understand a culture, which is an indispensable component to any human communication. Though food is a necessity to life, when carefully crafted, and accompanied by a beautiful glass of wine, cuisine does turn into an everyday art form that will evoke taste, smell, and a panging nostalgia to anyone who chooses to embrace it.
Savoring Traditions original publish date, September 2016