Walking through the doors at the Grand Tasting this Saturday, February 23, is guaranteed to be exciting. More than 200 vendors will be clamoring to share their food and drink with you—your challenge will be making the most out of this festival of wine and local eats. Fear not: we wouldn’t leave you unprepared in the face of such a momentous occasion. Take a peek at our step-by-step game plan designed to help you maximize your experience. You may not have known it at the time but mapping out your trip to Disneyland was just training for Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SWFE).
Getting There: We recommend that you utilize Uber, Lyft or public transport to get to the waterfront on Saturday. Bell Harbor is connected via skyway to the Art Institute of Seattle’s parking ramp and there is street parking; however, should you choose to indulge in alcohol at the event, please have a backup plan in place to get home.
First Steps: You’ll find registration, programs with maps, tasting glasses and coat check right when you walk in the door of Elliott Hall in the Bell Harbor International Conference Center. Consider a crossbody purse, as well—you'll need your hands free for tasting and gesticulating about how delicious everything is. Pro tip: if the line is getting long outside Elliot Hall, general admission guests can use an alternate entrance at the Waterlink room—right across from Anthony’s Pier 66.
The Good Part: Start off in Elliott Hall, which is on the first floor. You’ll want to begin with a drink to loosen up and really get into the SWFE sprit—thankfully, there are lots of options right off the bat. Woodinville Wines will be pouring a selection of local wines. Ketel One Botanicals will be serving up vodka sodas or go for a classic paloma from Don Julio. Charles Smith, Meiomi Wines, Spoken Barrel and Guinness will all be sharing exclusive food and drink pairings. Linger over your drink as you chat with the folks at Lexus and Visit Central Oregon lounges, who will have immersive experiences nearby.
See the PDF version of the first floor map here
Get Cultured: For your first round of food, check out Tulalip Resort Casino’s World Fest. Choose between New Orleans crawfish pie, a build-your-own somen noodle bar, champagne poached prawns or a lobster ceviche (or take one of everything—this is SWFE, after all). Just be sure to save room for the decadent dessert “bulbs,” which are layers of espresso brownie, pecans and salted caramel planted in a meringue and chocolate garden—a perfect subject for the first Instagram post of the day.
Sweeten the Pot: Before you head upstairs, enter in the raffle for a chance at one of the dozens of prizes available—gift cards, cookbooks, hotel nights, an outdoor swag bag from Visit Central Oregon—and one lucky winner will receive an enormous food and wine experience package. The raffle benefits Northwest Harvest, Washington’s leading hunger relief agency.
Water Break: It’s time to hit the second floor. No worries—there’s space to take a breather before diving into round two. San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna will have a hydration station right at the top of the stairs so you can refresh before moving on.
Seattle’s Best: Veer right into the Olympic Room for Seattle magazine’s 100 Best Things to Eat. We suggest filing down the line and taking one of everything like back in your school lunch days—you won’t want to miss the raspberry doughnut holes from Raised Doughnuts, the chili tacos from Off the Rez or the ultra-rich butterscotch pie babies from A la Mode Pies.
Not Done Yet: After a lap (or two) in the Olympic Room, head back past the water station and straight into the International Room. Here’s your chance to taste the best wines the West Coast has to offer, with stations of Washington, Oregon and California wine, flanked by restaurants and specialty food purveyors such as Smith Brothers Farms.
It Just Keeps Going: Head down the hall from International to the Waterlink Atrium where you can taste spirits, beer, cider and even more wine set against a backdrop of stunning water and city views.
Very Important People: For those with VIP tickets, take a minute to relax in the Waterlink Atrium at the lounge hosted by presenting sponsor Tulalip Resort and Casino. Aside from the swag bags and a photobooth by 321 FOTO, there will be exclusive wine and food pairings, cocktails from The Real McCoy Rum and Perfect Pour Cocktail Co. and a Swedish cheese selection curated by Tulalip Chef John Ponticelli.
Before You Go: After you’ve had your fill, you’re going to want a way to remember this incredible weekend aside from the pounds you may have gained. Stop by the SWFE swag shop by the front door on your way out for a token to remember us by—until next year.
Prices vary. February 23, 2-6 p.m., Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Waterfront, 2211 Alaskan Way
Grand Tasting General Admission tickets are still available – to purchase tickets visit seattlewineandfoodexperience.com
See full Grand Tasting program here