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Largest Food and Wine Fest in Texas Returns to Sugar Land Next Week

The 11th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair is back with a slew of events sure to tickle your taste buds and whet your whistle. As always, the event, which organizers describe as a "celebration of all that is good, gooey, sweet, savory, bubbly, hoppy and simply irresistible," will feature numerous food and wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, seminars, cookbook signings and a bartending competition.

Check out the schedule of events, and get your tickets fast. The kickoff dinner is already sold out, but there are plenty of other opportunities to sip and sup in Sugar Land.

Wednesday, April 23

Judgment of Paris Kickoff Dinner Museum of Natural Science Sugar Land

From 6 to 9:30 p.m., guests can relive the famous/infamous wine tasting held in Paris in 1976 at which California wines beat out French wines in a blind taste test, shocking the world and establishing the United States as a major wine maker. Guests will be treated to a five-course meal and blind tastes of French and Californian wines, and they, along with the judges, will ultimately decide once again who wins: France or California. Unfortunately, tickets for this event are already sold out, but we'll be there covering it, so you can read all about it on the Eating...Our Words blog the next morning.

Thursday, April 24

On the Rocks Bartender's Challenge Sugar Land Regional Airport

Five of Houston's best mixologists are showing off their gin skills by making cocktails using Hendrick's Gin from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Anson Aviation hangar. Luis Villegas of El Big Bad, Leslie Ross of Triniti, Nathan Reffell of Lei Low, Sheridan Fay of El Big Bad and Blake Jorgensen of Prohibition Craft of Cocktails will be competing against each other for $1,000. The event will be hosted by alcohol writer David Alan, also known as the "Tipsy Texan," and judged by Nick Babcock, the Houston mixologist for Republic National Distributing Company; Kris von Dopek, a Hendrick's Gin ambassador; Katherine Whaley of KHOU; Marcy de Luna of CultureMap; and Kehlen Selph, winner of last year's challenge. The winning drink will be declared the official cocktail of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair and will be served at several events later during the week. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online.

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Friday, April 25

Three Seminars Sugar Land Marriott Town Square

Friday will be a great day to increase your knowledge of wine, tequila and whiskey with a series of seminars presented by guest speakers. Each will take place from 5:30 to 6 p.m. and costs $50. You obviously can't attend them all simultaneously, so choose wisely.

The wine seminar is called "Battle of the Sexes," and during it, wine professional Monique Studak will look at what determines wine preferences--grapes or gender? Do men tend to prefer full-bodied reds while women want light whites? Why is wine described in gendered terms? Sip on samples of six wines while Studak answers these puzzling questions and no doubt gives you great fodder for dinner parties.

The tequila seminar is hosted by the Mexican National Chamber for the tequila industry, and it will look at the production and traditions of Herradura tequila. Samples will, of course, be provided, and the speakers will tell you what to look for to ensure you're always drinking the best, authentic product.

Finally, the whiskey seminar will feature Tullamore Dew brand ambassador Maurice "Mossie" Power as he explains why Irish whiskey is experiencing a Renaissance and teaches guests how to discern the best Irish whiskey from lesser impostors.

The Grand Tasting Sugar Land Marriott Town Square

After all the knowledge gained at the seminars, you'll be hungry for a meal, and the Grand Tasting never disappoints. From 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. guests will be able to taste food from local chefs, national chefs and chefs from Mexico. This year's lineup includes visiting chefs Arturo García Mogollón from Mexico City, Yolanda Yanar from Puerto Vallarta and Isaac Esparza from Riviera Maya, as well as more familiar names like Randy Evans of Haven, Jean Philippe Gaston of Cove, Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar, Manual Pucha of TABLE on Post Oak and Danny Jacob of Brasserie 19. There will also be plenty of wines and spirits available, as well as an auction benefitting the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management. Tickets are $125 each and are available online.

Saturday, April 26

Sip & Stroll at Imperial Imperial Sugar Factory

Cookbook signings, a beer garden, plenty of adult beverages and food samples galore await you on the grounds of the former Imperial Sugar factory for three hours of eating, drinking and learning about all things culinary. My Table Magazine is sponsoring the cookbook signing area in the old Char House, where guests can meet and chat with Paul Galvani, Erin Hicks, Gracie Cavnar, Shubhra Ramineni, Elfisio Farris, Ken Hoffman, Theresa Byrne-Dodge, John DeMers and Michael and David Cordúa. The beer garden will feature more than 100 beers from 25 different breweries. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased online.

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Sunday, April 27

Bistro Brunch Sugar Land Town Square

The Bistro Brunch is the most continental event of the Wine & Food Affair, offering attendees food from around the world and bloody marys and mimosas to wash it all down. During the meal, guests can watch cultural performances and listen to live music by Joel Guzman, Sarah Fox and Los Aztex. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online.

As a reminder, all of these events are strictly 21 and up. There will be booze a plenty throughout the festival, so call a cab and leave the kiddos at home.

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