There are dozens of seminars, demonstrations, and food and beverage pairings during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, and with options from the Mexican Tequila Lunch to Parisian Breakfast, there’s something for everyone. Since football season has officially kicked off, we put on our game face and dusted off our touchdown dance to enjoy an evening at the Tailgate Tasting!
The Tailgate Tasting is a low-cost Food and Wine Festival event that costs $19 per person and includes three sample-sized bites (much more on these below!), three sample-sized beverages for pairing, recipes to recreate the dishes, and a culinary demonstration. There’s even a themed souvenir (we’ll share pics in a bit!) to take with you at the end of the event!
The Tailgate Tasting takes place in World ShowPlace over between the U.K. and Canada pavilions in Epcot’s World Showcase.
The event starts at 6:30PM, and on our visit, the crowd was let in at 6:30PM. (Check-in started at 6:10PM.) It was hot waiting. Very hot. Plan accordingly or time your arrival so that you’re moving inside relatively soon after arrival.
Inside, there’s a stage at the front of the room. On that stage is a counter and work space for the chef doing the event’s demo. In our case, this was Chef Cy (who wanted to be sure everyone knew he was a Dallas fan even though he was wearing a Broncos apron!).
During our event, there was no screen showing Chef Cy’s work at on the stage, so while he did a great job explaining what he was doing during the demo, we couldn’t SEE what he was doing. We were told the screen and live set-up were supposed to be complete in time for the first Tailgate Tasting, but it wasn’t. When this is in place, it will add a lot to the presentation.
Also on stage were the helmets of the four teams being showcased at the event. Before you balk because your team’s helmet isn’t up there: the Tailgate Tasting will focus on teams with Monday Night Football games the night before those games. So the event we attended was for the Texans, Saints and Broncos,Raiders.
The 2019 Tailgate Tasting schedule features 10 weeks of MNF games represented — so plan ahead to catch the week for your team!
The stage also featured some props and equipment, including the bottles and can for the event’s beverage sampling and a mixer, breadbasket, and more just for looks.
The host for the Tailgate Tasting was Mark Daniel, whom you may know as the host of Disney’s web series “Inside Disney Parks.” If you’ve ever watched a live feed of a nighttime show in the Parks, you’ve likely heard and seen Mark. We’re happy to report: he seems like a really nice guy, and he kept the event moving in a smooth and lighthearted way.
In addition to everything happening on the stage, there’s also a cool photo op at the Tailgate Tasting, too! Guests could stand in front of a green screen to get their pictures taken, then choose a background to add to the shot!
Table settings for the event were specific to the event and included some helpful tools.
There was a Beverage Seminar page for tasting notes.
And this event included recipes for the three dishes demonstrated by Chef Cy.
The souvenir element of our place setting that we alluded to earlier? A team apron to take home! We received the Raiders, but cast members who were on hand to help guests during the Tasting were happy to grab a different apron for guests who wanted the Broncos instead (or vice versa). So speak up if you’re seated at a chair with your rival’s apron!
Each place setting at the Tailgate Tasting has a menu, so when you arrive you’ll be able to peruse that and take the menu home to have as a souvenir (or so you can find those drinks to enjoy again at home!).
The beverages — in our case Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale, McBride Sisters Chardonnay, and Left Hand Milk Stout — are on display on the front of Chef Cy’s station.
But when you’re seated, your beverage samples are already poured at your seat. The placemat is labeled 1, 2, and 3 so there’s no mixing up your milk stout with your pale ale (kinda hard to do that anyhow), and Chef Cy talks about the pairings as you move through the tasting.
Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale from Longmont, Colorado, was very light tasting and refreshing. It was paired with the Smoked Rocky Mountain Trout Bruschetta.
The Smoked Rocky Mountain Trout Bruschetta was a big surprise hit for us! The fish was not in the least bit fishy and tasted very fresh. It was served with flavorful Tomato Jam that didn’t overwhelm the subtle fish. And the toast was crispy and a great conduit for the trout.
The second beverage was the McBride Sisters Chardonnay (out of Oakland). This was crisp and delicious. We didn’t really get the pairing with the hot dog, but we loved the wine on its own.
The Coliseum Dog was our favorite of the three tasting items. Really how can you go wrong with Garlic Mac and Cheese and Chili on a hot dog? It was heavy and satisfying — and as you can see, it was not a sampling portion. We received a full dog topped with tons of mac and chili.
In this case, the chili was ground beef-based, which Chef Cy specifically mentioned because, as he said, Disney chili typically is heavy on the beans. (Being a Dallas fan, maybe that was also his ode to Texas chili, which is traditionally just beef.)
The Coliseum Dog also came with some jalapenos which, maybe it’s just us, look like a Hidden Mickey. 😉
The final beverage of the night was the Left Hand Milk Stout out of Longmont, Colorado. This was really smooth and rich to accompany the event’s dessert item: a cookie!
The Dark Chocolate Cookie with Orange and Blue Chocolate Candies (M&Ms) was a simple but satisfying treat to end the meal. The cookie was chewy and fun to eat. (If you make these at home, feel free to sub in the M&M colors of your choice!)
Again, this was a full cookie — more than what we expected the sampling to be. So that was a tasty surprise, too!
At $19, the Tailgate Tasting is at least a field goal, if not a touchdown. (If you get your team’s apron, we consider that a successful extra point attempt!) We appreciated the full-size portions of the Coliseum Dog and the Dark Chocolate Cookie, and the Smoked Rocky Mountain Trout Bruschetta was a pleasant surprise. Honestly, that much food alone at Disney would probably cost close to $15 or more, so pairing it with a few tasting drinks, souvenir team aprons, and the “show” itself was a pretty decent deal.
We enjoyed the Tailgate Tasting and hope the Food and Wine Festival continues offering a football-focused event for those guests who travel to the World during the season. (Can you handle one more football pun?) So blast your way into the end zone for the Tailgate Tasting to see if it makes you do a victory dance! (Sorry. We had to.)
Are you planning to take the ball down field for a TD at the Tailgate Tasting? Let us know with a comment!