New Orleans Wine and Food Experience Turns 20

Top chefs and wineries collaborate for dinners, tastings, and competitions

Grand tastings of wine and food pairings are held on Friday and Saturday during the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience.

What started as a one-day winery and chef gathering two decades ago has grown into the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, a five-day food and wine festival featuring vintner dinners at local restaurants, grand tastings, and culinary seminars.

More than 30 restaurants have been paired with vintners to create wine tasting menus during the festival, which runs May 22 to 26. Dinners are $75 to $150 per person. Two grand tastings Friday and Saturday will showcase 1,000 globe-trotting wines from 175 wineries and Southern cuisine from 75 chefs.

The Royal Street Stroll, a jazz music and wine tasting in the French Quarter on Thursday, is one of the unique wine tasting experiences in the world, with the Krewe of Cork presenting a parade reminiscent of fanfare that is typically on display during Mardi Gras.

An international cake competition and tasting will mark the festival’s 20th anniversary on Friday. Pastry chefs, assisted by local culinary students, will create their own signature versions of an anniversary cake inspired by the burlesque era of New Orleans.

Proceeds from the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience go to charities, including Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans, which works to fight hunger, and Acadiana, which supports culinary education.