Annual Sangria Throwdown in Houston Returns With a Twist — Updated

After being canceled last year due to the pandemic, the annual Sangria Throwdown hosted by Women Of Wine (WOW) Charities is returning this year. However, thanks to COVID-19 lingering like a deadbeat roommate, it won’t involve hundreds of guests sampling sangria in one big room. Instead, it’s billed as Sangria Throwdown On The Town. During October, each participating bar and restaurant is serving its sangria entry as part of its in-house drink menu — a development that may be advantageous for the 11 participating venues.

One thing has not changed: proceeds are going to the Houston Area Women’s Center, which provides support services for victims of domestic or sexual violence.

Bear Dalton at the Women of Wine Charities Sangria Throwdown
The late, great and deeply missed Bear Dalton of Spec’s was a regular participant in the Sangria Throwdown, and a staunch supporter of the WOW Charities fundraisers for the Houston Area Women’s Center. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Because of the new format, the People’s Choice voting is online this year. Visit the participating venues, order the competition sangria, then vote for your favorites. You can vote up to five times a day for multiple participants — but pace yourself. This year’s event underwriter is Bacardi, and there are several wine sponsors. The full list is on the WOW Charities website.

This year’s competitors are:

The judges who are making the rounds to taste all 11 sangrias and determining the Judge’s Choice and Most Creative Sangria awards are editor and publisher Phaedra Cook of Houston Food Finder, (yep, that’s me), food editor Eric Sandler of CultureMap and bartender/bar consultant/world traveler Chris Frankel. Judges are likely to look for attractive presentations and elevated flavors that are balanced while not sacrificing “punch” (so to speak).

Visit as many participating restaurants and bars as you’d like from now through October 31. On November 3, WOW Charities is hosting a special happy hour to announce the winners. We’ll update this article with details when those are available.

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