Drayton Hall breaks out the Madeira

Robert Behre/staff

There are plenty of battles being waged in the field of historic preservation, but almost everyone agrees that Madeira – the fortified wine that eighteenth-century Charleston famously adored – ought to be kept around.

So it’s fitting that the drink is the centerpiece of a Sept. 25 event sponsored by The Palladian Circle, the Friends of Drayton Hall’s new networking group for early- to mid-career professionals who are “passionate about historic preservation.” The four-course Madeira dinner at The Gasden House will feature presentations by University of South Carolina professor David Shields and Brandon Plyler, the cicerone who founded the Charleston Madeira Project.

“We wanted to host a meaningful dinner where members could connect and gain educational insights,” Drayton Hall spokeswoman Tara White says.

In addition to hearing from Shields and Plyler, participants will also have a chance to see Madeira-related objects recovered from Drayton Hall’s grounds, including stemware pieces, wine bottles, cobalt blue rinsing bowls, food bones and sweetmeats glasses.

As for the tasting portion of the program, Duvall Event’s head chef Matt Greene is planning a Portuguese-influenced menu in homage to Madeira’s origins. “We’re still tweaking details, but currently the menu boasts açorda; local fowl with piri piri sauce, and Portuguese sponge cake for dessert,” White says.

Unlike Madeira, which is associated with wealth, açorda is considered a peasant dish. The porridge-like concoction traditionally consists solely of olive oil, eggs, water and stale bread, so is sometimes called “beggar’s soup.”

And speaking of money: The event costs $30 for Palladian Circle members; membership rates start at $80. For non-members, the fee is $50. Aperitifs will be poured at 6:30 p.m.; dinner is served at 7 p.m. For more information, visit draytonhall.org.