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Hispanic Fund hosts its 4th Wine Tasting Fundraiser

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent


LORAIN: Guests pleased their palates with wines, cheeses and cherries dipped in chocolate last Saturday at La Sala night club while raising funds for scholarships and social service organizations that support the Latino community.

Greg Ortega and Marie Leibas helped sell and serve the wine.


At the 4th Wine Tasting and Hors D'oeuvres Fundraiser of the Hispanic Fund, Oct. 17, 2009, attendees received tips on the wine tasting process and how to pair different wines with food.

The Hispanic Fund, under the Community Foundation of Lorain County, provides scholarships and grants every August to non-profit organizations that serve the latino community.


Michael Ferrer, Hispanic Fund advisory committee member, and Joel Arredondo, one director of the Community Foundation of Lorain County, hosted the evening with wine jokes, stories and tips.


“Wine doesn't make you fat,” Ferrer said as a crowd of roughly 80 people responded with laughter, “Men are like fine wine. They start off as grapes and you have to stomp on them until they turn into someone you would want to go on a dinner date with,” he said.

But the evening provided serious step-by-step tips on how to properly taste and fully enjoy wine.


Ferrer explained before tasting the wine, the wine connoisseur should check the color of the wine by slightly tilting the glass against a white background, in most cases the napkin or tablecloth.

The guests are seen laughing and enjoying their wine and food.

“Is it clear, yellow, pale, light green, how cloudy is it?” Ferrer said.

The next steps include swirling the wine for a few seconds and really smelling the wine.


“You want to put your nose inside the glass, just make sure there is nothing hanging from your nose first,” Ferrer joked.


Then the wine taster can finally taste the wine and slowly swirl it in the mouth to experience the full taste, Ferrer said.


The guests sampled five different red and white wines, and a few audience members won a bottle of wine for correctly answering questions about wines.


Wine and Food Combinations

The first wine served was Chalet Debonne's Delaware, a fruity, semi-sweet white wine that was paired best with poultry, fish and arroz con gandules.


The second wine was Round Hill's White Zinfandel, a sweet rosé wine that goes well with Thai food and Italian food. “It goes well with any spicy food, food with cajun spices,” said Tim Carrion, affiliate fund coordinator of the Community Foundation. Carrion added strawberry shortcake and vanilla icecream also fits well with that wine.

Jennifer Kerns dips a cherrie into the fountain of chocolate and Maria Roman picks appetizers at the Hispanic Fund's wine tasting fundraiser.


The third wine was Chalet Debonne's Pink Catawba, a sweet rosé wine, that goes well with tostones or fried plantains, pico de gallo and seasoned ground meat.


The fourth wine served was Round Hill's Cabernet Sauvignon, a dry, red wine that goes well with chocolate or steak with potatoes.


The fifth and last wine served was Montpellier's Pinot Noir, a red, dry, light body wine that goes well with any food, Ferrer said. Carrion added La Sala's Boricua Rolls, egg rolls with ground meat, fit best with that wine.

“There was quite a bit of research that went into this,” Carrion said, adding the members of the Hispanic Fund committee researched and tried different food and wine combinations before choosing the pairs.


Ferrer urged the audience to try the cheeses with the wines to bring out that additional taste.

There was plenty of cheese included in the appetizers as well as pretzels, crackers, and marshmallows guests could dip into the small fountain of chocolate. The menu also included arroz con gandules and meatballs.


Yadira Narvaez, of El Centro's El Dorado Senior Center, said this was her first wine tasting event and was pleased to learn about the wine tasting process, “how to look at it, taste it and combine it with which foods,” she said.


Others came to support the Hispanic Fund.


“I'm not a wine drinker. I got something else but I came to support them,” said Victor Leandry, executive director of El Centro de Servicios Sociales.

This year, the Hispanic Fund awarded $2,000 to El Centro's Senior El Dorado Center's meal program, Leandry said.

The Hispanic Fund awarded $18,000 in grants and scholarships this year, $2,000 less than last year. Among the recipients are Freddy's Boxing Gym with $2,500, the Coalition for Hispanic Issues and Progress (CHIP) received $3,000, Lorain County Free Clinic also $3,000, Heart of Ohio Council Boy Scouts of America received $1,000, the Neighborhood House Association of Lorain County received $2,500, theLorain County Urban League, $2,000 and the Lorain County Community College Foundation also $2,000, Carrion said.

El Centro de Servicios Sociales staff. Their Senior El Dorado Center's meal program received $2,000 from the Hispanic Fund this year. Back, from left: Yadira Narvaez, Francisco Hernandez, Victor Leandry, and Angie Martinez. In front from left: Luisa Vasquez, Dan Radocaj and Marissa Ferrer.

The Hispanic Fund Frank Jacinto Scholarship went to Lisette Santiago, Lorain Admiral King High School student, and Cynthia Torres,Lorain Southview High School student. Each received $1,000.


In 2008, the Hispanic Fund awarded $20,000 in grants and scholarships including $2,000 for the Coalition for Hispanic Issues and Progress (CHIP), $3,000 for El Centro de Servicios Sociales, Inc. Hispanic Senior Program El Dorado, $3,000 for Freddy's Boxing Club, $500 for the League of Women Voters y mas.


Scholarships were awarded to students Roberto Alvarado and Luis Xavier in 2008.

Marie Leibas, former treasurer of the Mexican Mutual Society for roughly 15 years, volunteered to serve the different wines to the guests. “I always help out with these wine and cheese tastings. I love it,” Leibas said. Though she said her favorite wines come from the Mon Ami brand, one of the oldest wineries in the Lake Erie Islands region, she is also interested in searching for wines that are “heart-healthy,” she said. “I have read about those heart-healthy red wines. I've read articles that say only one glass of wine is needed a day. I'm always looking into that,” she said.


Researchers have found one glass or two of red wine may be good for your heart but research studies have reported mixed results.


Santo Leibas said he was glad to learn about the wine and food combinations and more Latinos could benefit from learning about how to fully enjoy wine. He added he plans to combine the different wine and meat suggested in his own home.


“Latinos drink whiskey and beer. We need more things like this,” said Santo Leibas “This opens up our eyes. Some latinos are not exposed to wine drinking and they should be.”

Founded in 1986 in memory of physician Jose Rivera, the Hispanic Fund has assets of over $315,000, according to the Community Foundation.


For more information, or to apply for scholarships or grants, log onto the Community Foundation of Lorain County web site athttp://www.peoplewhocare.org/index.cfm or contact them at 1865 North Ridge Road East Suite A, Lorain or call (440) 277-0142 in Lorain or(440) 323-4445 in Elyria.






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