During this year’s visits to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, I had one goal in mind: Try every. single. wine. I realize this sounds crazy (especially since we only had three days at this year’s festival) but we did it.
As a disclaimer before someone writes to me that I’m promoting alcoholism or something of the sort, we tried every single wine by sharing every single one over multiple days and we excluded ones we’re definitely familiar with (like Moët and Dom Pérignon, which was obviously fine as these are the most expensive).
In the interest of making this post readable and not turning it into a book, Chaz and I worked together to outline the wines that you should definitely try at this year’s festival and a couple that were so lackluster we wouldn’t recommend them. While you’re reading this assume that everything we didn’t mention would fall in the middle. If you do have a question about a specific Food & Wine Festival wine not covered in this post though, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)- we have notes on all of them and are happy to help!
The Best of the Fest
As a self-proclaimed authority on wine (not in any kind of an educated way, just as a normal person telling you what’s good) these are the must-haves at this year’s festival:
Mexican Sangria (Mexico)
First of all, peep that full-sized glass 👀👀. This full-sized glass of sangria is more expensive than most of the other wine offerings at the festival, but at $9.50 the extra $2-3 is well worth it for a quality drink. It’s a really solid sangria with red wine, blackcurrant liqueur, citrus juices, strawberry purée, and a splash of rum that perfectly balances the sweetness from the fruit juices with the boozy flavor of the rum.
Renè Favre Dôle (Alps)
This red wine was easily one of our favorite reds of the festival. It’s rich and full bodied with notes of black and red cherries and while we enjoyed it with the warm raclette I think this would pair really well with the venison stew if you happen to order that instead. While we thought the Renè Favre Dôle was the best wine in this flight, all three offered entirely different flavors so if you are looking to taste a couple of different wines this is one of the better flights to order.
Sula Shiraz (India)
FAVORITE WINE OF THE FESTIVAL. This red wine from India is everything I want in wine. I wasn’t sure how to describe this one because the flavors are kind of all over the place (in the best way though) so I looked it up. Turns out it has hints of blueberry, cherry jam, and bacon, so to me this wine is the perfect middle ground between something sweet and savory. It’s intense and a little tart and while we didn’t order any food from India this trip we did have this on hand while we ate the tenderloin in Africa and it went perfectly with that dish.
Mimosa Royale (Morocco)
This is the best mimosa at the festival, hands down, no question asked (sorry Shimmering Sips!). I don’t usually like mimosas all that much to be totally honest… because they usually just taste like orange juice… I’m just stating the facts here. The ones at the Shimmering Sips booth are also good, but to me anyway they kind of just taste more like your standard sweet/fruity drink you’d have on a girls’ night. This mimosa however had an extra kick with its sparkling wine and orange juice topped off with orange liqueur. Actually this is the drink that convinced me that my torn ACL was healed and I could walk the rest of this trip with a pretty substantial knee injury- so if you’re looking for a boozier wine this is it! *$9, but well worth it.
Kir à la Grenade (France)
The Kir à la Grenade in France is easily the best sparkling wine at this year’s festival. It’s kind of a standard drink with a simple sparkling wine topped with pomegranate syrup but it’s so refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness it’s something I’d order again and again. It’s on the slightly more expensive side at $8.50 but comes in a larger class than many of the festival wines and was totally worth the extra couple of bucks in my opinion.
Riesling Flight (Germany)
If you prefer white wine, this is the flight to order. I’ve had each of these Rieslings multiple times, and even though they range from very dry to very sweet I could honestly go for any of these on a walk around World Showcase. This flight is also a good one to start with if you’re just new to wine in general and want to learn what you like because each of the three options are the same kind of wine but still so different.
Bunratty Meade Honey Wine (Ireland)
Chaz actually buys (and occasionally makes) mead at home, so when we get this at Food & Wine Festival we do so knowing 100% that we’re paying inflated theme park prices for it. Still, it’s one of the best. It’s sweet and different and since I’m assuming most of you are not engaged to someone who makes their own mead it’s probably not something you usually have so it’s definitely worth a try for the sample sized taste.
Wines to Skip
I’m not one to really drive home negative content, but Food & Wine Festival is not cheap and I’m all about helping you guys save $$, or at least decide where it’s worth spending. Here’s the list of wines we’d skip next time:
Caribbean White Sangria (Islands of the Caribbean)
Don’t skip this booth- just skip the white sangria! Everything on the food menu here is delicious and the jerk chicken pictured above was one of my favorite menu items from the whole festival this year. Do skip the sangria though. It’s very light and very sweet, and would be totally fine to sip outside in the summer at your own house but it has a boxed quality about it that you shouldn’t be paying for in a theme park. Conversely if you’re not a wine person and are just in Epcot to drink this is a safe bet because it’s so easy to drink, just don’t expect mind blowing-ly great sangria out of it.
Espelt Garnacha Old Vines (Spain)
I’m sure this one is just an acquired taste, but both Chaz and I were not fans. It’s a pretty dry red and the after taste just really sticks with you. I realize this is not the most educated sounding opinion of a wine right now, but we just could not get the taste of this to go away and unless I’m drinking more wine that’s not something I really want. (The rest of this flight is solid though so if you’re all about the flights you may still want to give it a try…)
Prosecco, Villa Sandi (Italy)
It’s Prosecco, and it’s fine. If you like Prosecco you’ll like this one, but you won’t be blown away by it and you my regret spending $10 on it. What you will not regret spending the money on from the Italy booth however is the balsamic glazed pork ribs- order those and grab an Italian Margarita to go with them instead.
Red Organic Sangria (Morocco)
There is absolutely no reason to order this at the Morocco booth. If you’re in Morocco and you want wine, you need to get the Mimosa Royale, it’s really the only way. Although I didn’t see where it was poured from and it doesn’t say which brand this is anywhere, I’m fairly certain this is just Beso del Sol so skip the $7 for the small glass and get the Mimosa Royale instead.
BONUS: Best Value Wine Flight
While this doesn’t necessarily contain my favorite individual wines these were all well worth the price and when paired with the food option below this one gets my pick for the best value at this year’s festival:
Wine Flight & Piri Piri Shrimp (Africa)
$13.75 for everything pictured above, truly a bargain by Food & Wine Festival standards. From left to right we have Cederberg Chenin Blanc, a dryer white wine that worked really well with the spices on the shrimp; Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz, almost as good as the Sula Shiraz, this one was a little bit sweeter so if that’s what you’re looking for opt for this one instead; and the Groot Constantia Pinotage, which was really smooth and easy to drink.
The rest of the dish is the Piri Piri Skewered Shrimp with Citrus-scented Couscous, and this could easily be a meal rather than your typical Food & Wine Festival tasting portion. The skewer comes with five shrimp and combined with the couscous and side of veggies and beans it’s a pretty substantial amount of food that rivals the presumably more popular beef tenderloin from the Africa booth.
If you’ve tried some of the wines at this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, let me know what your favorites were in the comments! (And if anyone wants to bring me a bottle of Sula Shiraz, feel free!)