The Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic took place this year on October 18 and 19, and I was invited to check it out on the first day. I'm a huge fan of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, so I was anxious to see how this event, within walking distance of the park at the Swan and Dolphin resorts, stacked up to the festival.
The best way to describe the Food and Wine classic is sort of like a mini version of Party for the Senses, which is one of the most popular Epcot events. It as though the party, with all its food, drink, and entertainment, was moved outdoors to a lovely lakefront location.
Like the party, you can eat and drink all you wish at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic if you opt for the all-inclusive wristband. There's another option if you prefer to limit your indulgence: purchase tickets and use them for the items you choose.
I had the all-inclusive wristband, and I highly recommend it as the way to go. The price is very reasonable, considering all that you can choose from, and you don't have to worry about picking and choosing from among so many temptations.
The event runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. each evening. The foods with food, wine, beer, and other potent potables line the waterfront and courtyard, with a stage set up for musical entertainment at the far end of the main pathway. There are a limited number of tables and chairs, but I found it much easier to walk around and graze than to set up "base camp" somewhere because the booths are very spread out.
There are lots of standing tables, too, so you can almost always find a temporary spot to pause and eat your current dish. The portions are sample size so you can save room to try everything, and of course you can go back to your favorites as much as you wish.
The Swan and Dolphin have some amazing restaurants, and the Food and Wine Classic is a great way to sample their cuisine. It's hard to pick favorites, but I always love sushi from Kimono's, and the carved prime rib from Shula's was divine, as was the short rib Oscar from Todd English's bluezoo. Picabu's mini tacos were also a big hit, as was the ice cream panini dessert.
If you think the food is good, wait until you check out the wine and alcoholic beverage booths. There are over 30, representing just about every wine-producing country and region you can imagine. If possible, I recommend booking a dining and room package so you don't have to worry about how much you imbibe.
The food lines get long, but the free-flowing wine quickly turns that into a non-issue. Everyone is in such a good mood that you'll soon be chatting with your "line neighbors," and the time will pass quickly while you converse. It's not at all uncommon for people to momentarily pop out of a food line to grab a quick glass of wine at an adjacent booth.
I recommend arriving at opening time so you have as much time as possible to try all the food items. You won't make it through all the adult beverages, but it's really fun to try.
I was there early because I was signed up for an Italian wine seminar at 4:30 p.m. You can book a variety of pre-event seminars on wine, sake, beer, mixology, and more. I highly recommend a seminar add-on. You can see my seminar video by jumping to this article.