Wine and dine in Sims library

Selections of unique wine are poured for guests at a previous “Wine with Friends.”
Guests sat among books and study spaces as the library was transformed
into a temporary “café” style room complete with tables, shrubbery and more. 
The Lion's Roar/File Photo

Wine lovers have the opportunity to experience wine in a new way with the Sims Memorial Library’s annual “Wine with Friends.” The event is a fundraiser for the library where guests can enjoy samplings of six different wines, pairings of food, live music, a silent auction and door prizes. The wine tasting will take place next Friday, October 30 with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and tastings beginning at 7:00 p.m.

“It’s a fun way to spend the evening with some nice food, nice people, some really good wine in the library and the library is the beneficiary of it all,” said Library Director Eric Johnson. “There’s just something about the wine tasting that is just really fun to do. What I love is that everyone has such a great time even if they came by themselves and were afraid they wouldn’t know anybody, by glass two they’re talking to everybody at their table.”

All wines, foods and more are donated by members of the board of Friends of Sims Library, locals in the community, businesses and more. This year, much of the wine will be donated by downtown Hammond’s Red, White, & Brew. During the event, the wines will be introduced by Todd Delaune from Red, White, & Brew. 

“We end up with great wine, and we’re trying to do wine that people haven’t necessarily had before,” said Johnson.  “So we introduce the wine, talk about the wine, tell where it’s from, how it’s grown [and] what dish does it goes with. It’s a fun way to learn about wine as well.”

Attendees will get to learn about the wine they are drinking and enjoy food that pairs with it well. Both red and white wine will be served.

“What we’ve done from the beginning is, we decided it wasn’t going to be just a tasting, but we were going to pair different foods with it,” said Johnson. “It’s pretty much been consistent. Six different wines with six plates of food.”

The menu will consist of various hors d’oeuvres with the first wine, shrimp skewers, soup, a pork dish, a dish made of mushrooms and leeks and desert paired with a desert wine.

After enjoying three wines, guests will have an opportunity to browse the silent auction. 

“There’s going to be some new exciting things,” said Head of Serials of Sims Janie Branham. “I think people who come will be surprised in a pleasant way with the type of things we are offering.”

This year one item will be a dinner for six people at someone’s house provided by a Cordon Bleu chef. More unique items like this will be offered. Common items include gift cards, art, signed books, wine accessories and more. 

All proceeds will go towards the library’s annual budget to support things such as new equipment, provide various programs and more. Each year, “Wine with Friends” has helped raise between 3,600 to 4,000 dollars according to Johnson. Since they began the event about seven years ago, they have raised over 25,000 dollars. 

According to Branham, some of the money has helped provide new furniture in the library along with money provided by the Student Government Association. 

“It’s not a stuffy event. People think it’s going to be a very social thing and if you’re not part of an elite group within the community you’re not going to fit in,” said Branham. “It’s not like that at all. If you don’t know someone when you come in, you’ll know people when you leave. It’s laid back, it isn’t stuffy, people laugh and it probably has the most energy of any of the events that we have.”

The wine tasting is business casual and open to anyone 21 years of age or older.  

“It’s like a formal informality. It is the white tablecloths and the nice plates, and the wines are great, but at the same time it’s meant to be fun,” said Johnson. “It’s a learning experience of wine, but it’s meant to be fun. That’s the primary thing, for people to have a good time, enjoy the food, enjoy the wine and enjoy each other’s company. And it benefits the library so everybody is happy.”

Tickets are 35 dollars and advanced reservations are required. To pay online, visit or pay by check to Southeastern Foundation at SLU 10896, Hammond, La 70402. For more information contact Branham at 985-549-2186.