Monday, May 14, 2012


Next week the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience celebrates it's 20th anniversary of eating and drinking for a good cause. Those of you who are NOWFE experts have likely already reserved your tables for the wine dinners on Wednesday and decided whether you will attend one of the Grand Tastings on Friday night or Saturday afternoon.

In last year's piece for NOWFE, I wrote a very vanilla post with a brief synopsis of each event on the calendar. Such blog posts are helpful for the uninitiated and assists in promoting an event which generates a lot of business for the local hospitality industry at a time when they are making one final push before the dog days of summer. However, after my experience at NOWFE 2011, I decided to embrace the spirit behind this year's challenge and ask myself the simple question:

NOWFE: Is It Worth It?

Let's break it down event by event:
  • Wine Dinners - Are They Worth It? - It depends. We had great luck in 2009 when Medlock Ames poured at Vizard's but were disappointed last year with the food at Arnaud's, although the wines from Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel were impressive. That's the inherent Catch 22 with many of the NOWFE wine dinners - often times the most interesting wines are paired with restaurants whose food falls below expectations. My best advice is not to short change yourself in either category. If you can't find a menu which peaks the interest of both your thirst and your hunger, then spend your money elsewhere.
  • Vinola - Is It Worth It? - I have never been, so I honestly have no idea. Spending $150 to drink wine for 2 hours on a Thursday afternoon seems quite decadent, but the wines are supposedly expensive and the lineup of chefs and restaurants is definitely impressive. The Pope went last year and said that it was a blast, but of course he did not pay for his ticket. If I had the afternoon off from work and had not already committed to some other NOWFE event for this year, I would probably just to see if it lives up to the hype.
  • Royal Street Stroll - Is It Worth It?  - In a word, no. Last year, Royal Street Stroll was a certified clusterf*ck, and the rain was not entirely to blame. There are too many attendees, the lines to refill your wine glass are too long, and the food was non-existent. Someone had to say it.
  • Seminars - Are They Worth It? - Again, I have limited experience with this category, but this component of NOWFE seems to be the most educational and therefore the most appealing for true wine geeks.
  • Grand Tastings - Are They Worth It? - The Grand Tastings mimic the Royal Street Stroll in that they both involve long lines and lots of people. But the Grand Tastings traditionally offer both food and wine of better quality and more abundance. Now, most of the wines are poured are main stream, where as the wine dinners and Vinola feature more single vineyard varietals and reserve selections. But in terms of bang for your buck, it's tough to beat the Grand Tastings.
What say you? Is NOWFE worth it?


Anonymous said...

Totally agree re: Royal Street Stroll. I went twice, some 6 - 8 years ago, and never looked back. I wouldn't go again even if it were free. And I live in the French Quarter, so I don't even have the parking/travel hassles to contend with. It's just absolutely not a pleasant experience.

willifred said...

As you a word....NO!!!!!!! Huge waste of time and money....Martin's "OnceUpon a Vine" for the money and experience is much are other events