Epcot Food and Beverage Pairing Review
Epcot Food and Beverage Pairing Review from the Food and Wine Festival
In general, we love the extra events that are held during the Food and Wine festival. Sadly, the Food and Beverage Pairing event is an exception. This post provide details of what to expect with the Food and Beverage Pairing. We also cover why we recommend saving your money and skipping this extra-cost event in our Epcot food and beverage pairing review.
The Food and Beverage Pairings are offered several days a week throughout the entire Food and Wine Festival. Each day, the food and beverage pairing changes. The calendar is pre-arranged, so we selected a day where the food and beverage combination interested us. Our day was labeled “Wine and Pastry.” For the full calendar for 2019, click here.
The event lasts for 45 minutes. It includes a discussion from a wine expert. Then a chef discusses the dish that guests taste and provides a quick demonstration of how the dish is prepared. Guests receive a printed copy of the recipe that they can bring home.
In addition to the information, guests receive samples of the food and beverage covered in their seminar. For us, this included a glass of wine and a pastry. As we discuss below, both of these portions are very small.
Cost and Booking
For 2019, the Food and Beverage Pairings cost $29 per person (plus tax). While this is one of the more affordable Food and Wine events, we do not think that it is worth the cost. We explain why in detail below.
You can make a reservation directly through the Disney World website or by calling Disney World. Food and Wine event registration opens several months before the festival. While some events book up quickly, this one tends to have availability, sometimes even the day of. We attended the event on a holiday weekend. We booked a couple of weeks before and I believe we got the last two spots. If you want to attend the event on a specific day, we recommend booking ahead.
Arriving At The Event
This year, the Food and Beverage pairing event is held in the World Showplace Events Pavilion. This is a large convention building located between the United Kingdom pavilion and the Canada pavilion. The event begins at 2:30pm. We were told that the doors opened around 2:15pm, so we wanted to get in line early to get a good seat. We arrived right at 2pm and were the first people in line. They let us into the space at 2:15pm.
In the event space, there were approximately 24 tables each accommodating 6 guests. Guests were directed to a table when they entered and you were sat with whomever was in line with you. You are not able to request a specific spot.
Seating: Do Not Be First
For us, the seating is one of the worst parts of this event. If you decide to attend the Food and Beverage pairing, one tip we have it to not be the first people in. We were first in line. When we entered we were directed to a table in the front row, but the left side.
We figured as the first people in, they would give us a good spot. We were wrong. The whole first part of the presentation, the host and presenters talked to the far side of the stage and we could barely see the top of their heads. See below for an example of our view. Once the chef started his demonstration, it was better. But that whole first part of the event was pointless from our seats.
The event is similar to a talk show. There is a host that asks the chef and wine expert questions and directs the discussion. Every once in a while she asks rhetorical questions to the audience. At the end of the event, she asks if anyone in the audience has questions. Because of timing, they allowed 2 or 3 questions.
For us, the atmosphere was bad. Because the host and speakers are on a stage, it is really difficult to see what is going on. The camera that is meant to help show the stage, didn’t work properly. Being below the speakers also felt really disconnected.
The Chef and Wine Expert
The event has two experts. A large part of your experience will depend on how interesting you find the presenters. For us, both of the presenters were good. However, that aspect was not enough to save the event. If our presenters had been bad, this event would have been downright painful.
First is the beverage expert. For us, this was Sara Ryan from Cape Classics. Sara discussed a bit about her background, the company she works for, and the wine we would be tasting. The information was okay, but I would have liked to know more about the winery. It would have been great if they could show photos of the winery or the owner. (Especially since they had a projection system already set up and in our seat we couldn’t see the people talking. Some sort of visuals would have gone a long way.)
Our chef was Joe Murphy from Dean & DeLuca. His background was provided and it was clear that Joe is an expert chef. The main part of the chef’s time is spent doing a demonstration, which was about 20 minutes.
It’s hard to make any dessert in 20 minutes. Most of the steps were rushed and it wasn’t easy to follow since it was so hard to see the stage. There was one camera that would display what was happening on stage, but it didn’t keep up well. Overall, the information from the chef and wine expert were okay. But if we are being honest, for us it is not worth the money.
One of the biggest problems we have with this event are the portion sizes. The glass of wine is small. It is more than you would get at a wine tasting, but not by much.
Guests pick up their glass of wine when they enter the event. The portion of wine that you get when you enter is the only wine that you are served. We were hoping that there may be a second type of wine that you would get to try or something else offered during the event. The only other option is a cup of water provided at the table.
We were served a white wine. Specifically it was a Demorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc from 2017. I searched for it on wine.com after the event and it is listed at $43 a bottle. Sara, the wine presenter, talked up the wine a lot during the presentation. The wine was good. We are not wine experts, so for us, the taste of the wine was not anything special.
The theme for October 14th was listed as “Pastry & Wine.” As our pastry we were served lemon ice. It was similar to a sorbet and had a meringue with it. While the dessert was delicious and refreshing, we had one problem with it.
You can probably guess our complaint … it was really small. The dessert we were served made some of the tasting-size items sold at the Food and Wine festival booths look big. While the dessert had great flavor, we spent most of the time talking about how thankful we were that we ate beforehand. For $30, we were expecting more.
The whole point of this event is to pair food with a beverage. While this was discussed a little bit at the start of the event, when it came time for the food to actually come out, there was no talk about the pairing. It would have been nice to have the beverage expert and chef work together to talk about how and why the two items go well together. Or to talk about the flavors. Heck, they never even told the audience to take a bite of the dessert and then a sip of the wine together. It was more of a wine discussion followed by a dessert discussion.
Our Overall Recommendation
As we mentioned above, we will not attend another Food and Beverage pairing. The portions were really small, and our seating/view was really bad. For us, it is not worth the cost. If you are looking to do a Food and Wine event, we would skip the Food and Beverage pairing and opt for one of the other events. Our favorite event so far is the Parisian Afternoon, for our full review click here. If you have done a Food and Wine special event that you want to share your thoughts on or if you have any questions, please leave us a comment below!
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