The Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival is more than a month away, but the time to pop that bottle is now.
Uncork the Festival is the official kickoff to the event in March, providing a chance to get together with other wine lovers to swap stories and spirits. This year's event starts at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at Bomboras Grille on Hilton Head Island.
The idea comes from Open That Bottle Night, a similar event where aficionados gather with a bottle of wine they've been saving for a special occasion, pop it open and share the story that goes along with it.
Uncork the Festival ups the ante a bit with tapas and additional wines to taste courtesy of Bomboras Grille.
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"It's all about getting together and talking about wine and food," said festival chairwoman Tamara Bream.
The event serves as an introduction to the Wine & Food Festival, a week's worth of activities that culminates in the public tasting of hundreds of wines March 10 at Honey Horn. Organizers say they already have 700 wines slated for the tasting, a higher number than in recent years.
Uncork the Festival also comes on the eve of the International Wine Judging and Competition. Judges from all over the country come to award the best of the best wines that are participating in the festival.
Attendees also get a chance to discuss their favorite wines with the festival judges at Uncork the Festival.
"You don't have to bring a high-end wine," Bream said. "It could just be something that means a lot to you. It's all about the story."