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Cocktail Culture

Guide to New Orleans Wine & Food Experience

Don't miss the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience March 18 - 22, 2020. (Photo courtesy of NOWFE)

*Editor’s Note: While there are no travel restrictions to New Orleans due to the Covid-19, out of an abundance of caution and consideration for staff, vendors, and guests, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience has decided to cancel the event scheduled for March 18- 22. Please check the event website for details and updated information. 

Calling all foodies and wine enthusiasts! The 28th annual New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) is Wednesday, March 18 to Sunday, March 22, with all kinds of wine and food-centric events from tastings and labs to wine dinners and after-parties. Each year, NOWFE donates its proceeds to causes that support culinary education. This year, proceeds benefit the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) and Café Reconcile. NOWFE is jam-packed with delicious events. A ticket package may simplify things, but you can also purchase à la carte tickets to the events that are calling your name. Overwhelmed by too many great options? Our insider’s guide is here to help.  

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience Insider’s Guide

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience Royal Street Stroll (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Wine Dinners

Carefully curated wine dinners kick off this long weekend of indulgence on Wednesday, March 18. These dinners pair some of New Orleans’ top restaurants with a wine partner to create the perfect menu. Tickets typically range from $100 to $200 per person – they sell out quickly so grab your reservation ASAP.

Vinola! Wine Tasting

This tasting, which happens on Thursday, March 19 at 2 p.m., is for the real wine connoisseurs among us. The Vinola! Wine Tasting allows participants to sample wine with retail values of at least $75 per bottle, presented by the winemakers themselves. You’ll also get to sample some gourmet bites with all your sips! Get your tickets ASAP if you’re interested – this event sells out every year. Tickets are $200.

The Royal Street Stroll is the signature event of New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Royal Street Stroll

If you do nothing else the whole weekend, you’re going to want to make the Royal Street Stroll. It’s probably the most visible and best known event at NOWFE, rolling on Thursday, March 19 from 5:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m. on the 300-800 blocks of Royal Street. The stroll is really a parade of sorts, led by the Krewe of Cork, so wine-themed costumes are encouraged but not required. In addition to sampling featured wine and food along the route (you’ll get a special 2020 wine glass for the tastings), you’ll also be strolling down one of the most beautiful streets in the city. Make sure to check out all the rare antiques and art galleries along Royal Street while you stroll. General admission is $95. If you want to spring for a VIP ticket, you’ll have access 30 minutes early, and you’ll be able to relax in one of the two VIP lounges with special wine and food available. VIP tickets are $175.

Do Something Crazy

From March 20 to 22, NOWFE has put together some experiences to help participants get out and see the style and culture of New Orleans or learn a new skill. You can take a lively tour of French Quarter restaurants’ wine cellars, enjoy a selection of bubbly paired with fried chicken from local spot Willie Mae’s, or attend the premiere of the foodie film A Fine Line. Tickets range from $75 to $150.

Learn Something

NOWFE’s labs run on Friday and Saturday and give participants the opportunity to learn from local chefs and international wine makers. Learn about pairing dessert wines and cheese, natural wines, or how cork affects wine. Of course, every seminar features food and wine samples. We wouldn’t have it any other way! Ticket prices range from $75 to $150.

Enjoy wine tastings at the New Orleans Food and Wine Experience this spring (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Grand Tastings: Friday and Saturday

NOWFE hosts not one, but two, Grand Tastings. Both will be held at the Sugar Mill and will feature wines from around the world and food pairings by top New Orleans chefs. This will appeal to everyone in your group – whether they are wine connoisseurs or just there to enjoy the revelry.

The Friday Grand Tasting is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the Saturday Grand Tasting is from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. General Admission tickets are $129 and VIP tickets are $195. VIP tickets get you early access to the tasting, plus you can relax in the VIP lounge with special wine, bubbly, cocktails, and food.

Saturday Grand Tasting After Party!

When Saturday’s Grand Tasting is over, you’re going to want to keep partying, so head over to the Catahoula Hotel for an after party, featuring a stocked bar, DJ, small bites, and city views on the beautiful rooftop. Tickets are $35.

Burlesque, Bubbly, & Brunch

After a weekend full of (classy) boozing, you’re definitely going to need some hair of the dog. On Sunday, March 22, brunch is prepared at the Omni Royal Orleans. At this event, you’ll also enjoy a burlesque show by local performer Trixie Minx and her Burlesque Beauties. The event, which include bottomless champagne, is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $60.

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