Because my love of all things wine extends beyond just wine clubs, I decided to check out the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival at Disney last week. I had been once before but it was many years ago and before I really got into wine. I didn't know much of what to expect beyond 1) food, and 2) wine.
I have to start with this because it almost ruined the whole experience for my family. The crowds were SO heavy. I've been to Disney during Christmas Break, Spring Break, and even on Halloween Day for the Halloween party and I have never seen the World Showcase as busy as it was Saturday night. There were many, many groups of people sporting matching shirts that said cutesy things about their party being there to “drink around the world.”
I totally get it because if I lived near there, I would be hanging out there on the weekends as well. But the lines were so long that we didn't even try to wait in a lot of them. They didn't let up until after about 8:30pm, and some were still really long even then. Are you willing to wait in line 15 minutes to buy a cup of cheese soup for $4.25? You'd better really want that soup! We ended up grabbing a last-minute dinner reservation at Via Napoli and got a huge pizza and a pitcher of sangria.
Lesson: Don't go on a Saturday night. I'll definitely go again at some point, but I'll go in the middle of the week.
We did check out the menu for every one of the booths and stood in line for a few of them that either were not too long or that we really wanted. They had food from some of the countries that are already in the World Showcase (Germany, France, Italy, Mexico, etc) but they also featured many countries that are not usually there (Australia, Belgium, Poland, Dominican Republic, etc). Not into international cuisine? A few of the booths that were totally different were Farm Fresh, Cheese Studio, Chew Lab, and Desserts & Champagne.
The food ranged in price from $3-7 a “taste.” Each taste was the size of a small snack. For example, the Cheese Fondue was a small cup of maybe 4 ounces of cheese and a breadstick. My older daughter loved it so much she got a second one later. If you are used to “Disney prices” for food, you know this is pretty normal there. But you can expect to spend about $30 a person on food if you are planning on being there several hours.
The Wine (and Beer and Other Drinks)
You're probably wondering how all of this relates to my WINE blog. As the name implies, the Food and Wine Festival focuses almost as much on the wine as the food. There are also beers, specialty drinks, hard ciders, and even shots.
I started the evening with the Cheese and Wine Palette, which paired 3 cheeses (Karst cave-aged cheese served with honey, La Bonne Vie goat cheese served with Craisin bread, and Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue Cheese with berry Port compote) with 3 wines (Robert Mondavi FumeBlanc, Still River Winery Apfel Eis apple ice wine, and Sterling Vintner’s Collection Cabernet Sauvignon). For only $11, it was a great way to kick off the event and I loved every wine and every cheese. I especially loved how easy it was to carry. The little wine glasses fit right down into the cardboard palette. If you are having a party with wine tastings, it might be worth trying to recreate!
The Wine Studio featured 8 different wines from California, Oregon, and Washington (the latter two are featured in The California Wine Club Pacific Northwest Series). The Hawaii booth had a Maui Splash Sweet Pineapple Wine. Other than that, pretty much every wine was International. There was a nice variety of red, white, and sparkling wines. You could even get a glass of Dom Perignon at the Champagne booth (for $32.00). Germany featured a German Riesling flight for $5, which was a nice chance to taste multiple wines. Canada had ice wines, and even Ireland had a honey wine.
I stopped at a booth outside of Italy (one of my favorite places in the World Showcase to get wine), and at first thought that I was going to try the Peach Moscato Sweet Sparkling Wine just to try something totally different. But then I saw the Limoncello and decided that after everything I had eaten, a nice digestive was in order.
Altogether I would say there were probably about 75 different wines available, definitely something for everyone. Add in all of the beer, scotch, ciders, tequila, and mixed drinks and there were well over 100 different things you could try. Perhaps enough to visit at least a few times (just not on a Saturday night!)?