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It almost felt as if the penguins themselves were hosting a party. On Thursday, about 200 people showed up to the Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo for Celebrity Cruises’ Grand Red Affair. It was the VIP preview event kicking off Hour Magazine’s Savor Food & Wine Festival, which followed on Friday and Saturday.

Guests enjoyed tastes from dozens of fine red wines, gourmet bites and live entertainment displayed throughout the penguin house and the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery at the zoo. An underwater gallery inside the conservation center with a vast acrylic window provided breathtaking views of the birds above, around and below, and allowed guests to get up close. A few of the 75 penguins housed in the 33,000-square-foot facility stood by as if on guard while others explored their habitat, seemingly oblivious to the curious party guests.

Tickets to the event were $100 and a silent auction benefited the Detroit Zoological Society and local charities participating in Hour Media’s Give Detroit Challenge. A trio of sparkling new Alpha Romeos were on display from Lakeside as guests sampled red wine and indulged in delectable nibbles from Eddie Merlot’s, Great Lakes Culinary Center (they did a remarkable fried rice), Robusto’s Cigar Bar & Bistro, Shatila Bakery, Testa Barra, and chocolates from Guilt Chocolates and Mrs. Mason’s Co.

Hour’s Food & Wine Festival is a two-day culinary extravaganza at the Detroit Zoo showcasing tastes and sips from top food, wine, beer and spirit vendors. The weekend event, which brought out about 2,000 people, allowed partygoers to explore a variety of fine wines, craft beers, and specialty cocktails from the best wineries, breweries and distilleries all in one place.

Chuck Bennett is the creator of TheSocialMetro.com and hosts “Chuck’s World” from 4-5 p.m. Saturdays on 910AM Superstation.

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