Event closes out on positive note

Paul Imbesi makes a Moscow Mule with Barritt’s Ginger Beer and Enlightened Grain Vodka inside the Grand Tasting Tent on Sunday, the final day of the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival, in Marion Square.

Hundreds of people got a chance to sample some of Charleston’s finest wines and food Sunday.

It was the culmination of the eighth annual BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival, a four-day extravaganza of celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations, lectures, films, wine, beer, spirits and cuisine.

The festival included dozens of events spread across the city. The hub was at Marion Square, where two tasting tents were set up alongside indoor and outdoor cooking demonstrations, films, lectures and book signings.

Karen and Brett Super of Mount Pleasant were sampling wine and food under the tents for the fourth year in a row.

“It’s pricey, but it’s fun,” she said. “It’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.”

Locals paid $70 Sunday, a discount from the $85 price for those from out of town. Tickets were $100 Saturday, with the higher price set mainly to keep the crowd manageable, according to Ashley Zink, the festival’s communications director.

“This gives us an opportunity to taste different wine companies that we’re not familiar with,” Brett Super said. “You also get to taste things from different restaurants around the Charleston area.”

The festival drew about 22,000 visitors last year, and attendance was probably higher this year, considering it rained Saturday last year, Zink said.

This was the first year the festival included breakfast (Friday at The Grocery and Saturday at Two Boroughs Larder), and they sold out quickly at $40 each, she said. It’s likely more breakfast options will be added next year, she said.

The food samples under the tents were no more than a few bites, but there was plenty of variety.

Cherrywood BBQ and Ale House on Kiawah Island was offering Asian braised pork belly over pickled vegetables and red beet egg.

The Peninsula Grill was serving rabbit and duck rillettes with pickled vegetables and Dijon mustard on a rye crostini.

Grill 225 had prime beef tenderloin with baby arugula, pickled red onion and horseradish aioli, with Executive Chef Demetre Castanas chatting with visitors.

It was the first food festival for Jim and Charlie Fischer of West Ashley.

“We’ve been thoroughly impressed,” he said.

He was particularly taken with a new moonshine from Firefly Distillery on Wadmalaw Island.

“It’s 101 proof,” he said. “It’ll knock your socks off. … Thankfully there are enough food vendors here where you can pace yourself.”

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.