Austin Food & Wine Festival continues focus on wine, cocktails

The fifth Austin Food & Wine Festival kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday with more swanky food and drink-centric events, including the usual panels and tastings at Auditorium Shores.

Wine expert Vilma Mazaite is returning to the Austin Food & Wine Festival with a talk about Burgundy wines.

Wine expert Vilma Mazaite is returning to the Austin Food & Wine Festival with a talk about Burgundy wines.

Although the focus tends to be on food, there are always panels and events that wet our whistles, too. Here is some of the boozier programming that’s not yet sold out.

Night events

These include Cheers to 130 Years, a pre-festival celebration between the Driskill Hotel and Trefethen Family Vineyards on Wednesday. They will toast to 130 years of hospitality and wine with an intimate dinner. The $300 tickets get diners a multi-course meal made by executive chef Troy Knapp and, in a special one-night return, executive chef David Bull. Each course will be paired with award-winning wines from Trefethen.

There is also the big Taste of Texas event on Friday night. The party will bring in “an all-star lineup of talent from the Texas culinary scene… serving up dishes that reflect their signature style,” according to the festival website. Plus, you’ll be able to sip on drinks from Hendrick’s Gin, Tequila 512 and Stella Artois. Taking place in Republic Square Park, the bash is included in the price of an all-in ticket, which are still available for $625.

Daytime panels

Saturday:

  • Popular Austin Food & Wine Fest panelists Ray Isle and Mark Oldman are returning with more of their expert advice on reds, whites and bubbly wines. Isle, the executive wine editor at Food & Wine magazine, is revealing the secrets of wine pairing, while Oldman, an author and wine columnist for the Food Network, is opening up about how to break the rules of wine and how to drink like a billionaire. Both are good for the wine novice looking to get more in-depth about the beverage.
  • The festival is continuing its focus on alcoholic options beyond wine with a couple of panels about two beloved spirits: tequila and whiskey. “Wild Turkey: A Russell Family Tradition” spotlights the bourbon and rye whiskeys that have been produced from the Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky; before that, “A Noble Pursuit: Tequila Tasting with Casa Noble Tequila” offers an in-depth look at the certified organic spirits.

Sunday:

  • The other dynamic wine duo typically at the Austin Food & Wine Festival is Devon Broglie and Craig Collins, two Austin-based master sommeliers who often collaborate on one festival panel. This year, they’re teaching how you can sample wine like a pro with a blind-tasting class.
  • Another wine expert returning to the fest is Vilma Mazaite, a veteran of Little Nell in Aspen and the shuttered La V in Austin. She’s presenting a talk on “Offbeat Burgundy” for all the French wine lovers present.
  • Two more spirits-related panels (for the second year in a row, I’m wondering where the beer love went) round out the weekend. First up is “Hendrick’s Gin: A Most Curious and Peculiar Cocktail Academy.” Following that one is a talk that diverges slightly from the other offerings by looking at a very different — but common — ingredient in cocktails: bitters. Specifically, “Angostura Bitters: Not So Old-Fashioned.”

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