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Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 4 years ago

Forks & Corks: Sarasota's premier food and wine festival

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What better way to showcase Sarasota than with great weather, fine wine and delicious food?

In eight short years, the Sarasota-Manatee Originals have done an outstanding job in making Forks & Corks a world-class event. The 2015 festival will take place from Friday, Jan. 23 and continue through Sunday, Jan. 25, culminating with the Grand Tasting at The Ringling.

The Grand Tasting

The annual pilgrimage of oenophiles and foodies converges in one of the most delightful outdoor venues in Sarasota: the courtyard of The John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art. With showcased food specialties from more than 50 local restaurants and acclaimed vintages from more than 60 worldwide wineries, culinary discovery, exploration and, of course, wine pairing, are the focused activities for the day.

Perhaps the pinnacle event for the festival, The Grand Tasting is also the most popular event by far — this year’s event sold out within minutes of tickets going on sale.

Even though the tickets for The Grand Tasting are sold out, Forks & Corks is much more than just a singular event. With an emphasis on exploration and discovery in the world of wine, the festival’s multi-day schedule offers many opportunities to eat, drink, taste and pair.

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Winemaker Event

One of the great conundrums in culinary circles is the question, “Does wine taste better because of the food pairing? Or does food taste better because of the wine pairing?” Regardless of the answer, the right food and wine pairing can make for a delightful dining experience.

One way to experience this “divine duo” of food and wine is by attending one of the Winemaker Dinner Events scheduled for the evenings of Friday, Jan. 23 and Saturday, Jan. 24.

Showcasing the attributes of the wine and the talents of the chef, local chefs and visiting winemakers come together to present a multi-course food-and-wine-pairing dinner. Casual, intimate, and elegant, these dinners provide an excellent stage for learning. Usually the winemaker will provide an overview of their winery and the wines being served. The chef will provide insight into the menu, the food preparation and the selection of the actual pairings. These dinners always provide a fun-filled evening of food, wine, information and conversation.

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A Time to Learn

One of the primary educational components of the festival is Forks & Corks University. This year’s festival offers a half-day seminar, “Kings (and Queen) of California Cabernet” and full-day seminars, “You Had Me at Pinot” and “Amore Vino Italiano!” The price for each session includes a gourmet four-course luncheon with wine pairings.

The seminar consists of a moderated panel, comprised of a number of winemakers and representatives. Each panel member presents an overview of his or her winery, region and some tasting notes as the audience swirls, sniffs and sips along. These seminars are perfect for anyone looking to take their wine knowledge to a higher level.

The 8th annual Forks & Corks Festival promises to be the best one yet. If you're interested in food, wine, dining or learning more about wine, then this festival is for you.

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