Last year’s inaugural Reading Between the Wines fundraiser by the Riverside Public Library was such a success that organizers this year are tweaking the event to ensure shorter lines, more choices and easier access to food.

This year’s Reading Between the Wines will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the library, 1 Burling Road. Last year’s event drew more than 300 people and raised $26,000, which included a surprise $12,000 matching gift by an anonymous donor.

Proceeds raised by the wine-tasting event will go toward the library’s planned $1.3 million renovation of the building’s lower-level. Over the past 15 months, the library has raised about $171,000 in private donations from individuals and from events such as Reading Between the Wines.

“Hopefully this year’s event will kick us off for 2019,” said library Trustee Courtney Greve Hack, who serves on the Reading Between the Wines organizing committee.

In partnership with Riverside Foods, the library will provide nine tasting stations – up from six last year – offering tasting portions from 40 different bottles of wine from around the world, including California, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Argentina and Chile. 

New this year will be samples of port and madeira, and one wine station featuring all-natural and organic wines. Also new this year will be a station featuring premade cocktails – mojito, ruby red grapefruit, margarita and blood orange/bourbon – from Austin Cocktails.

The wine and spirits vendors, who are participating courtesy of Riverside Foods, are donating the wine and spirits for the event. There will be an opportunity for participants to order any of the products being sampled. People who do order wines can pay when they pick them up at Riverside Foods, and 10 percent of the wine sale proceeds will go towards the lower-level renovation fund.

Another new offering at the event will be a cash bar, which will be set up at the circulation desk. This year there will be charcuterie/cheese tables on both the upper and lower levels in order to provide better access to the small bites. The upper level food station will be moved to a different part of the library in order to facilitate traffic flow.

Each attendee checking in to the event will be given a commemorative tasting glass and a complimentary full pour of a red or white wine to start the evening.

“It’s a welcome wine to let people settle in and walk around first,” said Greve Hack.

Organizers are still collecting prizes, such as sports tickets, restaurant gift cards, a Scout Cabin rental, which may be raffled off, won at a silent auction or a combination of the two.

Last year’s event was a learning experience, one that has led to some other subtle changes, in addition to the increased number of stations and offerings.

“Our feedback from last years was that it was received really well, but that lines were an issue,” Greve Hack said.

Peter Boutsikakis, co-owner of Riverside Foods, said that the need for more wine stations was evident, because people wanted to stop and find out more about what they were drinking from the vendors.

“Patrons were looking for more information on the wines, so we needed more pour stations and better flow,” Boutsikakis said. “I feel like when you’re doing events in unique spaces like this you always learn something. Flow and availability of wine is at the forefront this year.”

Tickets to Reading Between the Wines cost $35 each and are limited to those 21 and older. They can be purchased at the library’s circulation desk or online at riverside-public-library.ticketleap.com/rbtw2019.