Top Picks for South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Festival founder Lee Schrager shares his favorite events from the signature Grand Tasting Village to a dynamic drag brunch
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF) returns to Miami Beach for its 21st celebration from February 24 to 27. The four-day festival, for which Broken Palate is a media sponsor, brings together some of the world’s finest chefs, winemakers, and distillers for a nonstop series of seminars, parties, dinners, and classes.
In total, about 60,000 people will attend over 90 different events during SOBEWFF, making it impossible to experience every single party. In a flurry of festival activities, how on earth do you choose the events that simply cannot be missed? You go to the source for advice.
As founder of SOBEWFF, Lee Brian Schrager knows the ins and outs of the festival more intimately than anyone. His advice to both veteran festivalgoers and newbies: Don’t overdo it. “When people go to Napa and they want to go to four wineries a day; it’s too much and they wind up rushing and not savoring any of the wines.”
Schrager advises picking one or two events per day in order to really dig deep and give yourself the chance to engage with the chefs and winemakers, enjoy that cocktail, or just relax for a few minutes with friends. “I ultimately want you to enjoy the time you’re spending at the festival,” he says.
In order to make the most of the weekend, Schrager suggests wearing comfortable shoes. (Most of the premiere walkaround events are hosted in giant tents directly on the sands of Miami Beach — so don’t wear heels and don’t wear any shoes you don’t want to be ruined by sand. Flip-flops are not only acceptable — they’re the preferred footwear for the weekend.) Schrager also reminds everyone to stay hydrated — with water. Every event offers plenty of bottled water to pair with your wine, so take advantage.
That said, here are the five events that Schrager said you absolutely cannot miss.
“This is an extraordinary dinner hosted by three of the finest chefs plating today, accompanied by fine wine pairings.”
“This is the one major evening event you simply must do at least once in your lifetime. This year, it’s co-hosted by Rachael Ray and José Andrés, so it’s better than ever.”
“The Grand Tasting Village is a full day of activities, food, and entertainment. The GTV offers tickets for either Saturday or Sunday afternoon, but if you go Sunday, you can enjoy the David Grutman Experience with performances by French Montana and Gianluca Vacchi, which is going to be off the wall this year.”
'“The festival’s motto is ‘eat, drink, educate’ and the wine seminars allow you to learn about a particular region or varietal in depth. I particularly like Saturday’s, “Exploring Italy’s White Wines Beyond Pinot Grigio with Vias Imports,” which will explore white wines from Sicily, Tuscany, Calabria, Piedmont, Veneto, and Trentino.”
“These classes are hands-on ways to learn from top chefs in their fields. Yan can bake bread at Sullivan Street Bakery or with Zak the Baker, shake cocktails with the bartenders at Sweet Liberty, or make pasta with Macchialina’s Michael Pirolo.”
“There is nothing better than a drag brunch and Sunday’s drag brunch is a vibrant celebration of the part form paired with some of Miami’s best food and drink. The brunch is hosted by Kalen Allen, with special guests David Burtka and Neil Patrick Harris, with a bevy of fierce drag performances MC’d by Kim Chi and Athena Dion.”