The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience will be celebrating its twentieth year of exploring the wonders of wine at this year's big celebration. There will be hundreds of wines to taste, pair, and learn about, all making one great experience.
The festivities begin in the middle of the week. Wine dinners start on Wednesday at many restaurants from prestigious French Quarter restaurants, like Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse to Metairie eateries like Heritage Grill, to across the lake at Annadele's Plantation in Covington. Dishes are expertly paired with wines to create a unforgettable taste experience. The Vinola Tasting mixer begins at Harrah's Casino from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. Two hundred wine enthusiasts and winemakers come together to sample the products of forty wineries, with food by Besh Steak, Root, Maurepas Foods and more. After a short break, the Royal Street Stroll begins at 5:30 p.m. and lasts until 8:30 p.m. The Krewe of Cork will march down Royal Street in the French Quarter. You receive a glass with your ticket, which you can use to sample wines. There will also be food tastings provided by Antoine's, Bourbon House, Drago's, GW Fins and more.
During the day on Friday and Saturday, seminars will be going on at the Marriot Hotel on Convention Center Boulevard all day.
These educational courses survey many aspects of wine, from the ground the grapes are grown on to the glass you drink the finished product from. The highlights of Friday's seminars will last from 10:30 a.m. until 5:45 p.m., and there's sure to be something of interest. Two local chefs are hosting "Sip and Slide," which pairs red wines with beef sliders from chefs Brack May of Cowbell and Adam Biderman of Company Burger. At "Battle of Burgundy," six wines from 2008 and 2009 will go head-to-head, vying for the attendees' favor as they learn the difference that a year of aging can make. And the Winemaking family the Benzigers will discuss how biodynamic, organic, and sustainable farming practices go into the five wines they will be tasting at the "Farming for Flavors," hosted by Chris Benziger. Saturday's seminars include "Distinctly Different," a showcase by the Riedel glassware company, who will be explaining how your drinking vessel affects the flavors and aroma of wine. The audience will receive four Vinum XL glasses. A regionally important course is "From the Foot of the Mountains to the Mouth of the River," which pairs wines from the Piedmont (literally translated as "the mountain's foot)" region of Italy with foods from the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico, led by master sommelier Craig Collins and local Piedmontese expert Ray Carono.
No birthday would be complete without cake, and NOWFE will not have just one cake, but an entire cake contest to honor the event's twentieth birthday. Hosted by Sucre's Executive Pastry Chef and partner Tariq Hanna, The Big Gateaux Show on Friday in the Grand Ballroom of the Royal Sonesta Hotel is the icing on the cake of the Experience. Starting at 8:30 p.m. and lasting until 11 p.m., Chefs Vanessa Fiorini from Toronto, Canada, Solandie Exantus from the Royal Sonesta, Bronwen Weber of Frosted Art Bakery in Dallas, and Vinnie and Michelle Garcia of The Bleeding Heart Bakery in Chicago, along with the assistance of their local culinary school assistants, will compete to create the ultimate Burlesque-themed cake. The cake will be paired with champagne by Nicolas Feuillatte, and both will be tasted by judges and attendees, who will collectively choose the winner of a $5000 prize sponsored by French chocolate makers Valrhona. The event will feature resident Burlesque Ballroom dancer Trixie Minx and more.
There is so much more happening for the Wine and Food Experience, and you can see the full schedule at their website at www.nowfe.com. It doesn't matter if you're a seasoned sommelier or a casual wine drinker, this weekend of events has something for you.