It wasn't all that long ago that anti-French sentiment in the United States over opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq led to the presence of something called "freedom fries" on the menu of the U.S. House of Representatives cafeterias.

It wasn't all that long ago that anti-French sentiment in the United States over opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq led to the presence of something called "freedom fries" on the menu of the U.S. House of Representatives cafeterias.

French toast became "freedom toast," and the French retaliated by renaming American cheese "idiot cheese."

On June 17, French wines will be front and center in a fundraising event for that most American of traditions, an Independence Day parade.

Maybe it's time to let the healing begin, joked George Schmidt, chairman of the Northland Community Council Independence Day parade, which will take place this year on Saturday, July 3, under the theme "Northland Pride."

A wine-tasting event, with all proceeds benefiting the parade, will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 17, at the Villa Milano Banquet and Conference Center, 1630 Schrock Road.

Tickets are $25. Only 100 will be sold and only in advance to make it easier for attendees to learn about the wines from an expert, according to Schmidt.

"It just seemed like people should be able to ask questions," he said. "There should be some intimacy."

This particular fundraising effort to help pay for the parade comes about, Schmidt said, because his cousin's son, Patrick Allen, lived at a vineyard in France for two years and studied wine. Allen is the son of parents who both have doctorates in French from Ohio State University, and the family has traveled to France extensively.

"He's really into wine, and he's now a wine broker," Schmidt said.

Allen and his wife, Connie, own United Estates Wine Imports Ltd., which is, according to its website, "a company dedicated to importing handcrafted, high-quality wines, from artisan estates in France."

"It just hit me: Why not have a wine-tasting?" Schmidt said last week.

He has since discovered that the price of $25 a ticket is "very reasonable," especially since it includes not only samples of high-end wines but also bread from Panera and cheese from Carfagna's. For dessert, there will be carrot cake from Costco. Schmidt said those three firms are donating the items for the fundraiser, and the Villa Milano space is being provided at no charge.

"I'm not much into wine, but I'm going to learn about wine," Schmidt said.

Patrick Allen will be putting on a PowerPoint slideshow and travelogue describing where the grapes used to craft the wines came from, which will be followed by the tasting as well as the bread and cheese, Schmidt said.

The wines scheduled for the tasting include a Jean-Louis Denois Brut Chardonnay, a Domaine Camp Galhan "Malivert" Blanc from 2009 and a Domaine de L'Echevin Cotes du Rhone Villages, St. Maurice "Guillaume" de Rouville from 2007.

Those interested in attending or wanting additional information may contact Schmidt at 895-7459 or via e-mail, georgeschmidt@ wowway. com.

Checks for the event should be made out to the Northland Community Council and mailed to 2080 Teakwood Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43229.