Any time the words wine and food are paired together, we get excited. How could we not? It’s Pavlovian at this point, really. The mere thought of an item cooked to perfection or a glass of a fine French vintage get us drooling. It doesn’t matter what it is, even. It could be a basket of greasy fried pickles or it could be a 45-day dry-aged steak. It could be a Château Lafite-Rothschild or it could be a jug of Carlo Rossi (okay, maybe not jug wine). What makes the thought of both things better, though, is knowing that the two come together every year in Charleston, one of the best cities for food in the South, in the form of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival (CWFF).
CWFF is back for its thirteenth run this February 28 through March 4 and is ready to blow the taste buds out of your mouth with an all-star lineup of food and beverage professionals from all over the country.
For a series of events as epic as CWFF, it might seem hard to pick a favorite, but if we had to, it would be the Culinary Village (it is, after all, called the “heart and soul” of CWFF). Located downtown in Marion Square, the Culinary Village gives attendees a chance to eat and drink themselves silly. This year, the Culinary Village was designed as an ode to Charleston’s old Market Street food hall with “The Gourmetisserie.” Throughout each session, the stage will be populated with a mix of music, chef demos, and engaging conversations that you can enjoy while you dig in, peruse the Artisan Market, or head out back to the Corkyard for a glass of vino.
Each ticket (those that aren’t sold out) provides access to a five-hour session of unlimited eating and drinking. If you’re an avid reader of The Manual, then you’ll recognize some of the names at the culinary village. They include, among many others, Jesse Houston of Fine and Dandy, Matt Bolus of The 404 Kitchen, and Anthony DiBenardo of Swig & Swine.
Even if you don’t go to the Culinary Village, you can still easily get your fill of all things wine and/or food while attending CWFF. Every day, all day, there are seminars, lunches, dinners, and myriad other events that you can attend, all hosted by luminaries in their fields. Some of the events we’re most excited for are:
Hosted by Tad Carducci (co-founder of Tippling Bros., a New York-based beverage consultancy, and partner in Cocktail Courier), this seminar will explore how you can use this storied aromatized wine product in more than well, Martinis. Not only will attendees learn about the rich history of vermouth (and about the different styles), but they will learn the myriad ways that those different types of vermouth can be taken neat or incorporated into cocktails.
Who doesn’t want to shoot amazing food photography, especially when so much today depends on Insta-likes? In this seminar, Charleston-based food photographer Hélèn Dujardin works with three star industry professionals (Josh Keeler of 492 in Charleston; Steven Greene of Herons at the Umstead in Cary, North Carolina; and Colleen Hughes of Haberdish in Charlotte) to not only present delicious light bites and drinks, but the knowledge of how to best capture them on camera as well. This, considering the caliber of everything else going on, seems like it should be a required class at CWFF.
Much like Ted and Tedx talks, Pecha Kucha is a chance for the food and drink world to come together to share ideas, inspiration, and more. Attendees will be able to munch on food truck delights and indulge in craft cocktails while industry professionals such as John T. Edge (Author of The Potlikker Papers and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance), Angela DuPree (operations director of Measure Up Training Program at One80 Place), and Scott Crawford (founder of Ben’s Friends and chef at Crawford & Son in Raleigh, North Carolina) take the stage. After the speakers, Choir! Choir! Choir! will finish out the evening.
Finally, if you can afford it (tickets are a mere $1,500 each), this is not a dinner to miss (we’re trying to find a place to sell a kidney to get into this one). This seven-course pairing meal features some of the best of the best in the culinary world. Throughout the night, you’ll be delighted by the talents of Sean Brock, Curtis Duffy, Gavin Kaysen, Steven D. Greene, Diego Muñoz, Angie Mar, Kevin Getzewich, and Robert Mondavi, Jr. If food means anything to you at all, then you know the gravity that each of these names holds. This is not a dinner to miss, if for nothing else than to spend the rest of your life bragging that you got to be at this meal.
While many of the events are already sold out (and have been for months), there are still tickets available for others. In order to see what is still available, you’ll need to visit their schedule of events.