The Great Beale Street Wine Race happened yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful day, the rain held off, and many people gathered to watch the four Wine Race events. I haven’t been happy with my photo albums for recent years’ wine races, because I tended to drink multiple Call-a-Cabs from Wet Willie’s and have had to go home to take a nap before the last event, the wine relay, was under way. So I decided to take a different approach to Wine Race this year – I didn’t drink. As a result, I got a much more complete photo album in years past.
The race kicked off with a parade. (Note: The photos on the blog are going to be somewhat Blind Bear-centric, but I tried to get good photos of every team and especially the Downtown ones. At the end of this post I’ll provide a link to the entire photo album.)
The Blind Bear float pre-race
One of the most original outfits in the parade. I believe this was Fleming’s steakhouse.
Parade winners Club 152
The second event was the Queen of the Vine. Ladies from each participating restaurant dance on stage and try to impress the judges. Each contestant is asked a question to give her the chance to show that she possesses brains and talent as well as beauty.
The judges. That’s musician Muck Sticky on the end in pajama pants.
Hanin answering her interview question
Ruffin leading the cheers for Hanin
For the first time ever, the judges’ vote ended in a mathematical tie. The audience was asked to break the tie between these two. They were each given one final chance to show what they could do.
And the winner was…
She represented Mesquite Chop House Southaven, if I remember correctly.
I have to say I was impressed with the Queen of the Vine contestants this year. None of them were trashy, none of them were ghetto, none of them were pregnant (as far as I could tell). Big improvement over previous years.
The next event was the grape stomp. I didn’t get to take pictures of this one because I was catching up with an old friend who just moved back to Memphis. Each contestant gets a tub filled with grapes and is given a certain amount of time to stomp them. At the end, the juice is poured out, strained, and measured. The contestant who produced the most juice won. This one went to Huey’s.
The final event is the wine relay, where four runners from each team run wine bottles and glasses up and down Beale. It’s important to get a good spot to watch all the action. Some of my friends were upstairs on the balconies at Jerry Lee’s, but after going up there for a minute I decided it was a bad idea. I could get better photos from street level, especially the expressions on the runners’ faces. Also, if I stayed at Jerry Lee’s I’d be obligated to buy a drink, and as I said I was trying to avoid drinking until Wine Race was over. So a few friends and I went back to street level and staked out an excellent spot.
Jermaine getting a few dance moves in prior to the start of the race
Backey from the Silly Goose making his run
… and running back because he forgot the team corkscrew. At Wine Race, teams are scored not only by their finishing time. They are also scored on the volume of wine they bring back, and whether all the bottles, glasses, corks, and corkscrew are on the tray.
This guy had things well under control, until he decided to skip to the finish line. That turned out to be not such a good idea.
Spectators were asked to stay out of the relay lanes, a request ignored by the Jack Binion’s Steakhouse team.
Hoop making the run for Silky’s
Suzy’s leg of the race for Double J didn’t go very well. I think Suzy should have run the race in a tube top.
Note that the wine bottles are on their side. The wine relay was pretty much a disaster for Double J.
After dropping three of his bottles, this guy decided to pour the fourth bottle over his head.
… and you saw what happened to the Blind Bear in the fourth leg of the race. Whitney was doing very well until she lost control of her tray about 20 feet from the finish line. Congratulations to Huey’s, who won the race. They must spend considerable time practicing. I don’t know if I could run that fast without carrying a tray and bottles.
After the last heat wrapped up, it was time for post-Wine Race festivities, or “the shitshow” as many Downtowners call it. However, I had to figure out which shitshow to take part in. Some of my friends from the Squeal Street BBQ team were going to the Beale Street Tap Room to watch the end of the Masters, but I couldn’t care less about golf so I looked for another option. Flying Saucer? Nope, I decided that would be too tame since they didn’t have a team in Wine Race. Since I had a Blind Bear shirt on, I figured I might as well go to the Bear and see what would develop.
Remember how I said I didn’t drink any Call-a-Cabs at Wine Race? Well, some other people didn’t have that plan. Here’s Daniel (on the left) having just woken up from a long nap on the Blind Bear’s couch in the back.
Why am I posting a photo of a glass? Well, here’s the deal. My friend Mike and I were hanging out at the Blind Bear’s bar with three folks who were off-duty after day shift at the Saucer. A round of car bombs came out. Four of the five of us finished their car bombs. Who didn’t? You might be inclined to guess me, if you know that I hate car bombs. But no, it was Mike who didn’t get the job done. Be sure to ask Mike about that the next time you see him.
After much heckling from the rest of the group, Mike finally finished off his car bomb, after it had gotten all curdled. Yuck!
Here I am with my BBQ teammate Gary and Naomi and Cassie from the Saucer. I seem to remember several shots of Fireball around this time.
I didn’t play the Bear’s Sunday poker game. I always skip poker when I have the day off the next day. It was much more well attended than I would have thought, to the point that they had three tables running and the blinds reached the rarely-seen 40,000/80,000 level.
An excellent Sunday with friends. Spring festival season for 2014 is now in full swing. Next weekend will be relatively slow due to Easter, but the weekend after that we’ll have the opening of Tennessee Brewery Untapped and South Main Dirty Dozen’s Carnaval de Panama on Friday, Memphis Brewfest and Hot Wing Fest on Saturday, and Rajun Cajun Crawfish Fest on Sunday. We’ll probably have Grizzlies playoff games to watch too. It’s that time of year when things are getting exciting!