Sure, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival gets all the foodie shine in February. Certainly, that festival is unparalleled in its opportunities for hobnobbing while overindulging. But when it ends, it leaves a dry husk of South Beach in its wake, with some extra clean-up duty and unwanted weight creep as its major lasting legacy. That's all well and good for this party town. But another, longer-running homegrown wine and food festival finds some meaning in the consumption. Celebrating its 16th year in 2011, the United Way Miami Wine and Food Festival raises funds, as the name indicates, for the nonprofit through caloric revelry. Presented by American Express, the four days of events kick off Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m., with Taste & Toast, an all-you-can-eat and drink -- uh, taste -- celebration of international wine. Taking place on the lawn at the tony Village of Merrick Park, it's also catered by more than 30 of South Florida's hottest restaurants, including Meat Market, Ortanique on the Mile, Timo, and Two Chefs. The next night marks Foods, Friends, and Fun, an interactive dinner helmed by Dewey LoSasso, top toque at the Forge, and kept convivial by Bacardi at the InterContinental Miami (100 Chopin Plaza, Miami). The rest of the weekend proceeds similarly lubricated. Saturday marks the multicourse dinner and wine challenge dubbed Cellar-bration, also at the InterContinental, and Sunday gets more casual with a craft beer-tasting at Brews and Bites at Mary Brickell Village (901 S. Miami Ave., Miami). Tickets for events start at $75 -- and the new pair of pants afterward might run a little more -- but the warm feelings of eating for charity are priceless.
April 14-17, 7 p.m., 2011