Light and airy with a heavenly taste that stole my heart at the Pacific Wine and Food Classic in Newport Beach this past August 19. Oh yes, there was plenty of wine and food, but these beauties put the event in a new dimension.

Walking over the bridge to the Newport Dunes Resort with calm blue waters underneath, I saw people laughing as they paddled on stand-up boards and dunked their toes in the water from the sandy shore.

When time came to enter the event, each person was given a wine glass that was made for outdoor use so no worries about breakage. I soon found my way to the fresh pasta being artfully sauteed by Chef Samaniego of Michael’s on Naples, and in-between bites, thanked the chef for his generous serving.

I’m happy to report that among the 100 wines to sip, hand crafted cocktails were available, too. My favorite Maker’s Mark Bourbon offered the Pacific Sunset cocktail, mixed with ginger ale and a wedge of lime. And Patron tequila was infused in ice cream and scooped into a waffle cone. Talk about a refreshing afternoon.

Throughout the day, culinary demonstrations were held with Food Network’s Simon Majumdar and I watched a pineapple salsa smoothie and watermelon curry being whirled and swirled by the experts.

The big winner was the Golden Rule Charity, a nonprofit organization assisting restaurant workers when financial needs arise. Many food service employees encounter emergency situations and a helping hand gets them through a difficult time. This worthy charity was the chosen recipient of the event which made the food and drink taste that much better.

One last pass by the table of meringues made by pastry chef Elyssa Fournier of Mixed Bakery, and my tough decision was deciding between the almond dulce de leche, chocolate ganache and raspberry jam fillings. The raspberry won for this balmy summer day.

Needless to say, next year’s event will be on my calendar along with the annual Golden Foodie Awards, which awards those who make the culinary scene a stand out in the community. All these described events go hand in hand for those who love to eat and drink. Buying tickets early is a must because tickets sell out early for both events.

More information: PacificWineandFood.com.

Disclaimer-I was a guest of the Pacific Wine and Food Classic and the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association. As always, my opinions are my own.