Culinary Delights at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Dino Roussia provides an insider’s look into the longest and most recognized food and wine events in the world at Walt Disney World’s Epcot.

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is an annual premier event that takes place at Epcot in Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

It's the gathering place for creative teams of culinary and beverage professionals, celebrity chefs, master sommeliers, mixologists, brew masters and master distillers.

Culinary thrill-seekers and beverage enthusiasts plan their vacations around attending the festival, which is believed to be the longest and most recognized food and wine event in the world. The 2016 festival will entertain crowds for 62 days, offering events that go beyond food and wine to encompass entertainment and the art of living well.

For 21 years, the festival’s development team and its partners have delighted and surprised guests with exquisite winemakers’ dinners, spirits luncheons, wine tastings, workshops and more.

Epcot at Walt Disney World has always been a theme park for exploration, discovery and celebration. Disney guests have a lot to celebrate at this year’s festival, with new global marketplaces and expansion on both sides of World Showcase into the east and west sides of Future World. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, so get your taste buds ready to experience new flavors from more than 30 tasting stations plus beer, wine and cocktails. Remember: This is a marathon, not a sprint! Hydrate and pace yourself.

Many of the festival’s activities are taking place around the World Showcase, where the sounds, scents and atmosphere will entice you to try the signature drinks and dishes served up in France, Italy, Germany and other global marketplaces from Scotland, Ireland, Poland, South Korea, Belgium, Brazil and more.

The heartbeat of the event is the Festival Center, which features beverage seminars, chefs’ culinary demonstrations with recipes, interactive mixology classes and a spotlight on coffee.

At the center, you can quench your thirst at one of these beverage service stations:

The Intermission Café is one of the locations where you can taste sparkling wine, beer and the limited production of this year’s festival wine from California – Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. These festival wines are exceptionally stylish and will satisfy even the most discerning palate.

At The Chocolate Experience, hosted by Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., you’ll have the chance to sample, pair and compare some of the chocolate delights with Fonseca port or the highly rated Lasseter Family red blend wine, Amoureux, from California’s Sonoma Valley.

The Festival Center offers 10 wines for tastings served from a wine dispensing machine. For maximum enjoyment, the machine serves and preserves the wine’s freshness at an ideal temperature. The wine shop is also a one-stop shop selling a nice selection of marketplace wines from around the World Showcase and Future World.

What's new this year at Future World?

The Chew Collective, inspired by ABC-TV’s “The Chew,” is offering the festival’s wine by the glass. 

Greenhouse Guru, hosted by Village Farms, is serving a selection of wines from the Pacific Northwest, such as Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling from Washington and a favorite Pinot Noir from Acrobat, Ore.

At the Chocolate Studio, you can sip and savor some deliciousness paired nicely with Rosa Regale, a sweet red sparkling wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, or Justin Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, Calif.

Stop by Wine & Dine Studio, where celebrity wines include Kurt Russell’s GoGi Goldie Chardonnay and Tiger Pinot Noir. Don't miss the opportunity to sample Maestro, a limited release red blend celebrating Robert Mondavi 50th anniversary, or Conundrum, a 25th anniversary white blend. 

Islands of the Caribbean features a tropical storm of flavors — Caribbean Sangria, frozen Mojito and more.

For local flavor, the Farm Fresh marketplace is serving sunshine in a glass: Florida Mango Mamma fruit wine and a tasty hard cider.

If you’re into exotic cocktails, try a Ritzy Lychee with Courvoisier Cognac and Smirnoff at China, or the popular frozen Szarlotka (“apple pie”) at the Poland booth.

The craft beer movement in Florida is alive and well here:

  • The Craft Beer selection at Odyssey Center is a great representation of what hop heads expect and enjoy.
  • Brewer's Collection, near Germany, and Hops & Barley, at American Adventure, are two places to see, be seen and seek those much talked-about craft brews.

Perhaps the best indulgence to top off a fabulous evening of art, culture and entertainment is some bubbly at theDesserts & Champagne kiosk, where a glass of Dom Perignon might set you back $32 — but you’re worth it.

Dino Roussia is a certified sommelier for the Court of Masters in London and certified spirits advisor. He may be reached at

Categories: Cheers with Dino