24 Years of Wining & Dining at Epcot
Since 1995, guests have flocked to Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park for a unique culinary experience at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. There’s something at the festival for everyone from novice to expert foodies to enjoy, with culinary demonstrations from celebrity chefs, an Eat to the Beat concert series, and Global Marketplace booths serving appetizer-sized samples of international recipes paired with cocktails, beer, and, of course, wine. Vintners from across the globe are invited to participate in the festival, showcase their wines, and give guests the chance to sample and learn about their products.
Speaking on behalf of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival team, Karen McClintock, communications and public relations manager for experiences and products at Disney Parks, offered a behind-the-scenes look at how the event comes together.
“Our Epcot festivals team partners with the Walt Disney World Resort food and beverage team on the vintner participation process,” McClintock says. “We consider a variety of criteria when selecting vintners for the festival, including feedback from our guests.”
More than 60 vintners are expected to participate in the 2019 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. This year’s roster features new and returning vintners, so seasoned guests can look forward to enjoying some of the most popular wines from previous years again.
Although the event takes place in the fall, the Epcot team works year-round to make the festival’s magic happen. This timing and attention to detail is especially important for the wine portion of the festival, as international vintners must have adequate time to process and ship their wines to the United States.
“We also work closely with the vintners to ensure they are prepared to offer product for the duration of the festival,” McClintock says.
Food & Wine Combine
The Global Marketplace booths are the highlight of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Each booth typically features three to four dishes with a variety of wines, beers, and cocktails – which may be priced between $4 and $10 – to enjoy alongside them. Food at the event usually costs between $4 to $8 and comes in smaller portion sizes so guests can maximize their culinary experience without getting full too quickly.
Global cuisine from the 2018 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival included an escargot croissant from France, a lamb meatball with spicy tomato chutney from New Zealand, and a roast bratwurst in a pretzel roll from Germany. While not every booth provides wine for guests to pair the dishes with, the majority of booths will offer guests a choice between two or three wines for the ultimate food and drink pairing experience.
“Our Epcot and Walt Disney World culinary teams partner to create incredible dishes for each festival, including exciting new bites and returning guest-favorites,” explains McClintock. “If wine is offered at one of the festival’s Global Marketplace booths, we work to pair those wines with the food options from that location.”
Events & Shopping for the Wine Connoisseur
To further educate guests and show off their wines, Epcot wine vendors have the opportunity to participate in beverage seminars and specialty dining events.
Guests who want to learn more about what makes a good food and wine pairing can learn tips and tricks from master chefs and beverage experts. Attendees to last year’s pairing demonstrations learned to pair wine with meats such as shrimp, pork, and even octopus during the 45-minute sessions.
To expand their knowledge on what makes a “good” wine, guests can attend wine seminars where they will receive a thorough education on wine – with samples – from master sommeliers and industry specialists. Presenters from the 2018 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival hailed from countries across the globe, including Germany, Italy, and Argentina. Last year’s wine seminars were held daily and cost $17 per person.
The Festival Center Wine Shop enables guests to purchase some of their favorite wines from the festival. An experienced sommelier is usually on hand to advise guests, and vintners often offer guests a chance to have a bottle signed by the wine maker. At the 2015 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, Disney legend Kurt Russell visited to host a wine seminar and bottle signings for his GoGi label wines.
Planning Your Epcot Experience
The 2019 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is slated to be the longest one yet at a whopping 87 days, running from August 29 to November 23. Guests only need to purchase an Epcot theme park admission ticket to experience the festival but will have to pay extra to attend premium events such as seminars and dining experiences. Learn more about the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival here, and stay tuned for more details about this year’s event as they become available.
Images courtesy of Disney Parks.