Epcot's 2008 International
Food & Wine Festival

City Tastes - Spain

City Tastes - Spain
Great Match Wine & Tapas 08

World Showplace

October 24, 2008

Hosted by Wines from Spain

Laura Gilbreath
AllEars® Disneyland Correspondent

City Tastes Spain Room

The "City Tastes" events are new to the 2008 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. They are held on 4 different Friday nights, and each night features a different area - Australia, Spain, Italy, and Louisiana. We attended the Spain event on Friday, October 24.


There was very little information available on these events beforehand - all Disney had to say about it in their pre-festival literature was:

"A unique, casual dining experience to discover, taste, and enjoy regional food & beverage from global cities. Chefs, wineries, and breweries from a featured region prepare local tastes for guests to enjoy in a walk-about event. Features live entertainment from the represented region."

So, my impression was that it was a scaled-down version of the Party for the Senses with food and wines from a specific country/area. And that was basically correct, except that, in the event we attended, at least, the emphasis was much more on wines than on food. There were over 30 different wine stations, and over 200 different wines, but there were only 6 different food stations. And one of those was olive oil tasting, which is not what I'd call "food".

Like the Party for the Senses, City Tastes is also held in Epcot's World Showplace. It was from 6:30-9:00 p.m. We arrived about 15 minutes early - at that point the line to get into Party for the Senses would stretch out almost to World Showcase, but for this event there were maybe 100 people in front of us.

The doors opened promptly at 6:30 and we went inside where we checked in. Though they had told me on the phone that ID was required we were not asked for it. But anyone who was under 21 received a white wristband. There weren't many of those! A little further inside they gave us a small booklet with the Tapas menu and a list of the wine selections and a small spiral-bound book with a more detailed list of the wines, including the prices and contact information for the importers. This was where we learned the real name of the event: Great Match Wine & Tapas 08, hosted by Wines from Spain.

And then we received our wine glasses - these were just plain glasses that we left behind at the end of the evening. On another table were some SpainGourmetTour magazines, as well as bags for carrying them around - I thought providing the bags was a thoughtful touch.

The main room was set up very much as it is for Party for the Senses, with lots of stations for the wine and food around the room, and a number of tables. This event was not crowded, so we were easily able to find one of the high tables that the four of us used for the rest of the evening. Eventually we pulled over a couple of the high stools to sit on.

Wine, wine, everywhere...but not a familiar name or varietal in sight! What to try with all of those choices? Fortunately the people pouring the wine were knowledgeable, and with the fairly small crowd they were not busy, and eager to talk and share their knowledge. My husband Lee struck up quite a rapport with the guy at the Grupo Faustino station, who took time to talk to him about the grapes grown in Spain, and how the different wines were made, etc. Eventually I think Lee tried everything he had to offer, and he enjoyed a lot of it. At other stations we saw the presenters setting up impromptu wine tasting flights for guests. I generally resorted to wandering up and telling the presenter what kind of food I had and asking what they would recommend. That worked pretty well - I had a very nice white wine and a very nice red that way.

Both of the friends who accompanied us are very knowledgeable about wines (one is a former winemaker), and they were both favorably impressed by the quality of the wines. Though we were all overwhelmed by the sheer number.

While the wines were plentiful, unfortunately the food choices were quite limited:

Soup Selection:
Warm Granada Almond Shots
Chilled Andalusia Gazpacho Shots

Cold Tapas:
Manchego and Drunken Goat Cheeses
Marinated Olives and Peppers
Chick Pea Puree and Eggplant Puree
Rustic Breads

Hot Tapas:
Chorizo in Red Wine
Roasted Lamb Empanada
Potato Tortilla with Serrano Ham and Manchego Cheese

Paella Valencia with Chicken and Seafood
Bacalao Fritters with Piquillo Peppers

Carving Station:
Carved to order Beef
Petit Potatoes with Red Peppers, Onion, and Chilis
Olive Bread

Olive Oils from Spain

And, most disappointing to me, there were NO desserts.

The food was fine, but nothing was spectacular - my favorites were the Gazpacho and the Potato Tortilla. Lee liked the chorizo. I think we all agreed that the empanadas were not very good. There just wasn't much to choose from, especially compared to a Party for the Senses.

Entertainment for the evening was two different groups - a music group and a flamenco group. The music group, Soledad, played what we thought of as Spanish light jazz - it was very pleasant to listen to and made for nice background music. Flamenco del Sol performed two sets - they had a male and female flamenco dancer in addition to an accompanying guitarist. They were fun to watch - very dramatic.

The event was $95/person, so it was quite a bit less than a Party for the Senses at $135. We really enjoyed it as a wonderful wine tasting event. Had I known the limited menu I would probably have chosen to eat something beforehand, though. The event was very under-attended, which I'm sure is disappointing to Disney, but we thought it was great - plenty of tables, plenty of attention from the pourers, and plenty of personal space.

We would do something like this again, though in the future it would be helpful if Disney would provide more information on the specifics of the event. Though for all I know the City Tastes events might be individual and all just a little different, so others might be more food-centered.