The Texas Department of Agriculture will this Sunday serve up a heain’ helpin’ of taxpayer dollars as the chief sponsor of an artsy “wine dinner” in Austin. Were you invited? Me, either…

The event benefits the Texas Wine & Food Foundation, an Austin non-profit organization. The TDA is actually sponsoring it twice — under their name and official logo, as well as under the name and logo of “Go Texan,” a TDA initiative. So the only event sponsors are, well, you the taxpayers. Aren’t you generous?

(Here’s the full invitation , sent my way by one of those wine-and-cheese friends of mine …)

Don’t get me wrong; the Texas Wine & Food Foundation seems to be a fine organization. According to their web site, they exist to “connect our members and the general public with the value, creativity and craftsmanship inherently present in the culinary and viticulture arts.” (Somehow I bet my kids’ incessant craving for chicken nuggets, string cheese and apple juice-in-a-box doesn’t count.)

To attend this affair, non-Texas Wine & Food Foundation members have to shell out $60 per person. Is it really an effective use of your tax dollars to sponsor a glitzy high-brow dinner? In a word, no.

Especially when one considers the number of property owners — including those in farming and ranching — struggling under increasing property taxes, using state dollars to sponsor an exclusive event in Austin tastes a little sour. (Not many of the 23.5 million Texans spend much time pondering the viticulture arts in Austin.)

The mission of the Texas Wine & Food Foundation should be supported by individual contributions from folks who believe in its mission; not the taxes collected from hard-working Texans who’ll never find themselves on the invitation list for artsy social functions.

I’m sure this sponsorship can be justified by any number of TDA bureaucrats. They’ll tell us it encourages development of the food industry and promote Texas vineyards, as they enjoy the Chilled Avocado and Rudy Red Grapefruit Shooters, nibble on the Sauteed Gulf Shrimp with Yellow Squash-Saffron Coulis and sip Pinot Grigio.

To whet your appetite, here’s the Texas Department of Agriculture-sponsored menu:

Chilled Avocado and Ruby Red Grapefruit Shooter
Spicewood Sauvignon Blanc

Pure Luck Chevre Crepe with Preserved Lemon Relish
Becker Vineyards Viognier

Pork Flauta with Mexcian Oregano Sauce,
Avocado Crema and Dried Cherry Drizzle
Stonehouse Claros (Norton)

Sauteed Gulf Shrimp with Yellow Squash-Saffron Coulis with Roasted Garlic Puree and Chive Drizzle on Croustini
Flat Creek Estates Travis Peak Pinot Grigio

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Red Snapper
Guajillo Chile Sauce and Grilled Chayote Squash
McPherson Sangiovese

Cowboy Rubbed Texas Beef Short Ribs
Elgin Garlic Sausage and White Cheddar Grits
Fall Creek Vineyards Meritus

Texas Stone Fruit Melee with Honey Peach Ice Cream
Candied Pecan Dust and Burleson Honey Drizzle
Flat Creek Estates Travis Peak Select Muscato D’Arancia

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."