The Epcot Food and Wine Festival experiences are centered around country-themed “marketplaces,” with each nation putting their best foodie foot forward in the form of authentic menus and beverage pairings. And authentic it is. Foods are presented as they would be in the mother country, where the integrity of flavors and textures is closely guarded and spices keep their traditional heat. Buckle up because palate profiles are not diluted or toned down for introduction’s sake, you get the real deal at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
A country’s unique story, its people, history and sense of place, are often defined and communicated by the uncanny context of its cuisine. Food and wine are culture and culture is the very essence of Epcot. This natural synergy is captured by the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and provides a seamless marriage of taste, talent and tradition that is strategically amplified by the stunning backdrop of the familiar sights and magical sounds of a featured nation’s most prominent pieces of architecture, historical icons or crafts and signature gifts.
Festival Food and Wine
New this year is South Korea’s inaugural display with tangy lettuce wraps stuffed with roast pork and kimchi slaw and the must try Bohae Bokbunjajoo a refreshing treat, consisting of black raspberry rice wine served cold and sweet. Annual festival favorites include Canada’s hearty Cheddar Cheese Soup and a mug of Moosehead beer or try the Bison Chili with wild mushrooms and pepper jack cheese partnered up with a solid Washington Merlot from the United States’ marketplace.
Belgium is another newbie this year and has made quite a splash by offering guests a picture perfect Belgian waffle complete with fresh berry compote and a fluffy crown of whipped cream, made happy by its pairing partner in crime – brace your caffeinated self… Godiva chocolate iced coffee! I tend to be a dessert-first type, so by all means hit round two at Belgium a tad later for the other spectrum of the country’s notable flavors – mussels drenched in a roasted garlic cream sauce and a traditional Stella Artois to wash it all down. Before leaving Europe, check out one of Germany’s best “comfort foods” – a generous spoonful of Spätzle Gratin with ham and cheese accompanied by either the always classic S.A. Prum Riesling or a traditional Radeberger Pilsner.
The festival’s South American cultural contingent is comprised of Chile, Brazil and Argentina. Don’t miss the Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée matched up with a sassy Bodega Norton Malbec from the Argentina marketplace.
Epcot Food and Wine Festival: The Lay of the Land
Like most things Disney, Epcot is a well-organized, user-friendly theme park setting. However there are a few tips and tricks that will make your Epcot Food and Wine Festival adventure even easier to navigate.
Tip 1: Grab a festival map upon entry into Epcot.
Tip 2: Follow map or just turn left at the shooting water fountain and follow festival signs to the Festival Welcome Center, located in the gold-domed building next to the Mission: Space attraction. The majority of the Festival's programs, food demonstrations and wine seminars are held in the Welcome Center.
While at the Welcome Center:
• Snag a festival passport to plan, track and stamp your culinary journey through the sights and sounds, tastes and scents of over 23 participating countries.
• Also, if you are new to the world of wine, you might consider taking a quick peek at the seven minute movie, Seasons of the Vine, a continuous show that puts the whole grape to glass phenomenon into proper perspective.
• Check out the festival’s entire compilation of over 300 wine, beer and spirit selections all corralled in a single setting at the Welcome Center’s shopping hot spot, The Cellar.
• If you’d like to dig a little deeper into the intriguing world of food and wine, then spend some time at one of the festival’s featured specialty programs like the Epcot Wine School, a gourmet food demonstration, a beverage seminar or attend a book or bottle signing. Seriously consider reserving a spot early on, as seminars fill quickly. Otherwise, while at the Welcome Center check last-minute availability of daily demonstrations and seminars, all professionally led by industry experts, celebrity chefs or vintners.