The 2nd Food and Wine Classic hosted by the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin took place October 7-8. This event is a fantastic opportunity to sample many foods and wines, as well as attend seminars for more in-depth experiences.
The Classic has two components – Beverage Seminars and the Causeway (the main event).
The beverage seminars ($35) are, well beverage seminars: Wine Blending, Riesling Rendezvous, Spanish wines, Modern Mixology, All Things Sake, Beer Please, and Base to Bubbles. Seminars were held 4:30-5:30 p.m. We attended four different sessions and share our reports below.
The Causeway, the large walkway between the Swan and Dolphin hotels, is where all the action takes place. You can purchase an unlimited wristband ($65) or individual tickets to sample just a few items. It was open 5:30 to 9 p.m.
After attending for one evening in 2010 and having a great experience, I decided to book the Food and Wine event package with the hotels.
If you wanted just a room for one night with causeway tickets for two adults, rates began at $255. A really good deal considering that included $130 in Causeway tickets!
The two-day for two adults included one beverage seminar each day and a wristband for the causeway for the two evenings, $329. Another super deal which included $200 in Classic tickets.
Before going any further let me HIGHLY recommend you cost out and seriously consider next year’s packages when they are released!
The Causeway - There were booths with wine tastings from around the world (26 actually), and food stations (10) from each of the Swan and Dolphin restaurants and a caterer or two. This year, the causeway area was expanded to include a whole section of the Swan near the lap pool. You could have easily spent half the night in each section, there was so much to enjoy. There were plenty of tall tables set up to enjoy the food and wine.
The beverage stations were all wine except the following: Beer, Sake, Champagne and Moonshine (yes, you read that correctly). In addition to country wine stations, several encompassed regions within that country -- five Italy stations, three for France, six for California and even one Ohio station! There were plenty of wines to choose from and taste.
The wines appeared to be the same both Friday and Saturday, however all but four of the food stations offered different items.
The guide map was informative and listed the wines that would be served in each station, as well as the foods and which night they would be served.
The food was excellent with just a few exceptions.
While the weather for both nights in 2010 was near perfect, the same couldn't be said for this year. The weather just did not cooperate. The days leading up to the Classic were beautiful, but on Friday things began to go downhill. We were actually surprised that the event began outside on Friday evening, as predicted storms were approaching and the winds had picked up. It was a beautiful evening until the rains came around 7:30 p.m. My awesome Wine Blending seminar ran over to almost 6:15, and so by the time I got to the Causeway, I only had an hour, which didn't allow much time for photos.
The crowd favorite from the evening (actually of the whole weekend) was Todd English's lobster roll.
Other favorites from Friday night included Cib’s Smoke Shop (a caterer), who offered Carolina-style pulled pork with coleslaw and a side of fried pickles.
Todd English's bluezoo’s Shrimp Cocktail Steamrollers (think shrimp shooters); and Kimono's Dragon Roll with crispy shrimp, tuna, and avocado.
The skies opened up at about 7:30 p.m. and everyone scattered. The lobby of the hotels quickly became crowded. Since we were staying at the Swan we went up to the room to continue the evening's festivities.
I later learned that Shula’s and Kimono's set up shop at the Java Bar in the Swan and a 20% or 25% (I received conflicting information) discount was being offered to wristband holders in the resort's restaurants.
The rain had let up a great deal by 8:30 p.m., but it was still sprinkling out. Apparently many of the beverage booths had reopened, at least to pour.
I was glad we purchased the two-night package!
All Things Sake:
Eight different sakes were available to taste during the seminar.
The individual place settings had both the sakes, as well as pineapple shrimp salad, tuna tartare, and a bottle of water.
The presenter was Chad Lobner, Certified Sake Expert and General Manager of Todd English's bluezoo.
Chad told us about the history of sake and how it is produced. We learned some important information, such as what differentiates a premium sake from a table sake. With each individual sake, Chad gave us ideas of what to look for regarding aroma and taste. He also told us to remember the word "GINJO" -- apparently it is only found on bottles of really high-grade sake.
Chad was straightforward and his passion for sake was abundantly clear. This was a great seminar for both sake lovers and those who have always wondered, but never tried sake before.
Wine Blending AKA Bordeaux Rocks!
While I had a general idea what this seminar would be like, it far exceeded my expectations in every way.
Our individual place settings included five glasses of red wine, four cheeses and some bread (to share with your neighbor), and a pipette.
Our presenter was Tony Porcellini, Certified Sommelier and Director of Food and Beverage for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort.
Tony shared interesting stories about wine-making history as we tasted each of the individual grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
One unique thing Tony shared was how wine characteristics relate to the tastebud sensations on our tongue. For instance, the tip of the tongue tastes sweet – to put that in wine lingo it is “Fruit Forward." The back of the tongue picks up bitter, which in red wine would be tannins.
The final part of the seminar was for us to blend our own wine. Tony gave us approximate percents of the various wines found in the Bordeaux and meritage blends and we used that to create our own wine.
Tony was quite entertaining, as well as very educational. The seminar went way over the allotted time and was a bit rushed at the end, but it was worth it!
Did you attend the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic? What did you think? Any questions? Leave me a comment below.
And be sure to leave your thoughts on the Classic in our Rate and Review section HERE.
Part 2 - Saturday and my Final Thoughts
The previous post in this blog was Spotlight on 40 Year Walt Disney World Cast Members: Kevin Myers.
The next post in this blog is Spotlight on 40 Year Cast Members at Walt Disney World: Heather Will-Browne.