Even though the annual New York City Wine and Food Festival (NYCWFF) and its hoard of groupies don’t storm the city for another month, tickets have already been pillaged for a number of events. How typical! (Writes the jaded New Yorker.) Don’t despair though — we’ve sifted through the remainder of the wine and booze focused seminars under $100 to help you navigate what’s still available, and trust us, the best ones haven’t sold out — yet.
Brilliant Bubbles by Ray Isle, $95
Proof that plenty of cool events still remain on the roster: you can still grab tickets to spend the afternoon drinking and talking bubbles from around the world with celebrity wino Ray Isle. Executive wine editor for Food & Wine, Isle turns a joyous topic into an exercise in education — and keeps it fun. Learn the difference between Champagne and Cava (they come from two different countries, for a start), or Franciacorta and Prosecco (different regions, grapes, and methods, but both made in Italy). You’ll get to compare California’s brightest bubbles with the superstars of France, gain insights to the sparkling winemaking processes, and learn to saber — at your own risk.
Dim Sommelier: A RedFarm Pairing Seminar hosted by Ed Schoenfeld and Josh Wesson, $95
If you’ve muddled confusedly through pairing wine with dim sum at your favorite Chinatown joint, it’s not your fault — the wine list probably sucks, anyway. But even if you can BYOB or you’ve mastered the egg roll at home, a few tips and tricks will make for a better wining and dining experience. Fortunately, upscale dim sum expert Ed Schoenfeld from RedFarm restaurant has teamed up with sommelier Josh Wesson to train attendees in the art of wine and the Orient and help make your next dinner — whether you prefer scallion pancakes, curries, or chicken feet — a vinous success.
Burgundy: The True Terroir hosted by Laurent Drouhin, $95
Even for pros, Burgundy’s alluring wines come married to a complex, fractionated system of small producers, terroir delimitations, and steep prices that make understanding the market a challenge. To help guests deconstruct the region starting with history, appellations, and winemaking traditions, Laurent Drouhin, of Maison Joseph Drouhin, will lead a wine tasting and seminar on the region. Laurent’s family has made wine in Burgundy since 1880, so his mastery of his homeland should illuminate a few shadows in your knowledge.
Riesling Revival hosted by Eric Hemer, $95
By now you’ve heard that Riesling is a noble grape that gets too little respect, likely because few consumers understand the wine’s range (dry, off-dry, and sweet) and complexity (approachable, porch drinker to worthy of decades in a cellar). To debunk myths — aren’t all Rieslings sweet? — and continue the Riesling education crusade, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine Eric Hemer will lead a blind tasting and discussion of some of the world’s best domestic and international Rieslings. Participants will taste dry and off-dry wines from renowned regions, and whomever guesses closest to the pros in quality ranking will win a prize (hopefully a bottle of Riesling).
Mixology Masters, $95
If your liver has survived the weekend, cap off Sunday night with Mixology Masters. Held at Bagatelle in the Meatpacking, this festive, nighttime event was the sleeper hit of last year’s NYCWFF. Hosted by Food Network personality and Brooklyn restaurant owner Justin Warner, the city’s best bartenders gather to pour their latest creations until you can’t take another splash of whiskey, rye, bourbon, gin, or vodka.