The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE) returns in June for its 31st year, featuring dozens of events including wine dinners at top restaurants, tastings, excursions, seminars, and more. It’s one of the fancier — and pricier— food and drink festivals to take place in New Orleans, but those ticket prices go to a good cause — the festival has raised more than $1.5 million for local nonprofit culinary education organizations over the last three decades.
Throughout the week, NOWFE will host wine and food seminars and other educational hands-on experiences, like a very cool lesson on decorating cakes with edible flowers led by Bronwen Wyatt of Bayou Saint Cake. But this guide is devoted to the good (and consumable) stuff: food and drink events. For a full schedule of NOWFE events, see here. Here’s everything you need to know about New Orleans’s ritziest food event.
Wednesday, June 7
A slew of wine dinners kick off NOWFE feasting on Wednesday, June 7, at New Orleans staples like Brennan’s and Vyoone’s as well as newer restaurants like Mister Mao and Jewel of the South. The full list of dinners and menus can be found here, with tickets ranging in price from $85-$225 per person, though most hover around $150. We’ve picked out a few standout menus below.
Café Reconcile Featuring Saintsbury Winery
Chef Martha Wiggins leads the kitchen at this feel-good New Orleans staple, and her wine dinner menu of crispy quail and Tobasco mash, roasted shrimp yuzu-kosho breadcrumbs, and red snapper escovitch is sure to deliver a satisfying mashup of classic and modern New Orleans cuisine. Tickets are $150 inclusive of tax and gratuity; call for reservations.
Jewel of the South Featuring Wines from the Folio Fine Wine Portfolio
One of New Orleans’s most impressive cocktail bars is hosting a wine dinner for the first time this year, and the menu delivers the creative elegance it’s become known for: Eggs Royale with bone marrow and smoked trout roe; foie gras parfait with eclair and prune; and wagyu beef tongue with smoked mackerel and celeriac. Tickets are $200 inclusive of tax and gratuity; click here for reservations.
Mister Mao Featuring Mary Taylor Wine
One of New Orleans’s most exciting, creative new restaurants is Mister Mao, and it’s hosting its first NOWFE dinner this year. Sophina Uong’s five-course dinner includes foie gras with pistachio and pani puri, lamb, and scallops. It’s a good deal at $150 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity; call for reservations.
Palm & Pine Featuring Second Line Wines
Excitingly, Palm & Pine’s wine dinner this year features the acclaimed chef of Elvie’s in Jackson, MS, Hunter Evans. The menu includes deviled crab, Creole tomato aspic, escargot boudin, and cold-smoked beef from Home Place Pastures (also in Mississippi) served with squash gratin. Tickets are $197 per person inclusive of tax and gratuity; click here for reservations.
Vyoone’s Featuring Enriquez Estate Wines
The beloved Vyoone’s offers a magical setting for a wine dinner, and the four-course menu is enticing: Chile cantaloupe soup, escargot, lamb lollipops, and more. It’s $165 inclusive of tax and gratuity; click here for reservations.
Yo Nashi Featuring Fess Parker Winery and Vineyards
This omakase restaurant downtown is another first-time wine dinner host, and promises to be one of the most intimate. Seven courses include red sea bream with heirloom tomato dashi, hamachi nigiri, and wagyu beef with Japanese eggplant. Tickets are $165 inclusive of tax and gratuity; click here for reservations.
Thursday, June 8
The Vinola tasting, taking place this year at the Orpheum Theater, always sells out despite the high ticket price. Why? Wine enthusiasts get to rub elbows with notable winemakers and sample rare and highly-coveted wines, all while experiencing a dozen of the city’s best restaurants and dessert purveyors. The event is in the evening this year, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. (unless you purchase a VIP ticket, in which case you get in at 5:30 p.m.), and tickets start at $215 per person.
Tournament of Rosés
Friday, June 9
One of NOWFE’s most popular events is the casual and fun Tournament of Rosés, and this year’s event is also indoors (in the air conditioning) at the Fillmore in Harrah’s. Taste your way through a bunch of rosés from all over the globe, then cast a vote for your favorite. 12 New Orleans restaurants are pairing bites with the wines. It’s from 7 to 9 p.m., and tickets have jumped up to $129 a pop.
Saturday, June 10
For 30 years, NOWFE’s main attractions have been the grand tastings. This year, the festival is combining two events into one on Saturday, June 10, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the beautiful Generations Hall — that means it will be inside, with air conditioning. Dozens of New Orleans’s finest chefs will sling dishes (Windowsill Pies is even participating!) paired with hundreds of vintages. Tickets are $149 for general admission, and VIP tickets are $215.
Burlesque, Bubbly & Brunch
Sunday, June 11
NOWFE closes out with Sunday brunch at the Omni Royal in the French Quarter featuring beloved local burlesque performer Trixie Minx. Burlesque, Bubbly & Brunch is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and is basically what it sounds like (seats are $95 and include a plated meal and bottomless sparkling wine, and a performance by Minx and friends.